A settlement has been reached in the case of Osman Faruqi v Mark Latham, with Mr Latham removing offensive statements made about Mr Faruqi as well as agreeing to pay him damages plus legal costs.
The total sum of damages plus costs could exceed $100,000. Legal costs will be significant given the extraordinarily lengthy and unusual first Defence filed by Mr Latham in the case. Legal costs will be assessed by the Court at a later stage.
In light of the settlement, the defamation proceedings will be dismissed.
Mr Latham made the offensive comments about Mr Faruqi on 2 August 2017 in a video posted to Mark Latham’s Outsiders Webpage, YouTube, the Rebel Media webpage, and a post on Facebook,.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ Josh Bornstein, who acted for Mr Faruqi, welcomed the resolution of the matter.
“This was an important case and vindication of our defamation laws,” Mr Bornstein said.
“Speech that causes harm has been regulated in different ways for centuries. Defamatory speech is one of many areas in which the law intervenes and regulates. We are pleased that Mr Latham has now removed these comments as they were harmful and untrue.
“Mr Faruqi has always supported free speech and robust debate, but as we have reiterated throughout this case Mr Latham’s comments about him in this instance crossed a clear and unacceptable line.
“The comments were highly damaging to Mr Faruqi and following their publication, other individuals engaged in threatening behaviour and racial and religious bigotry towards him.
“Mr Latham had suggested that Mr Faruqi had made numerous attempts to vilify white people, a suggestion ridiculed earlier this year by the Federal Court when it struck out Mr Latham’s first Defence,” he said.
Mr Faruqi also welcomed the resolution of the matter, including the removal of the offending comments from Mr Latham.
“This case has always been about reaffirming the principle that all Australians should be able to participate in public debate without being denigrated and accused of supporting heinous crimes like terrorism because of their background,” Mr Faruqi said.
“It’s unfortunate that the case had to proceed this far. It’s taken over a year, but this is exactly the result my team and I were hoping for when we initiated this action – the comments to be removed and a payment of damages and costs.
“I hope that this settlement sends a message to other members of the community that while robust debate is part of a healthy democracy, using your platform to harm the reputation of individuals comes at a cost.
“I strongly believe that our community would be better off if Australians from all backgrounds were able to participate in public life while feeling confident that they won’t be publicly denigrated.
“Hopefully this result helps and encourages Australians with diverse backgrounds to speak up and participate in democratic debate.
“I want to thank my legal team – in particular Josh Bornstein, Naomi Hatcher and Nina Abbey from Maurice Blackburn and my barristers Bruce McClintock SC and James Mack – for their advice and representation throughout this matter, and for standing up for the right of all Australians to speak up without fear of vilification,” he said.
Media inquiries: Jade Thompson at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on 0417 969 438