Evans v John Fairfax Group Pty Ltd: 12 Feb 1993

(Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory) It was not defamatory to say of a career civil servant that his career had been aided by patronage of senior politicians, since it did not impute any active or improper seeking of favours on the plaintiff’s part: The question is, however, whether to say of a person that he has been the beneficiary of such a system, with the capacity to be used to favour the less well qualified candidates, defames the candidate . . In Renouf [(1977) 17 ACTR 35] (supra), Blackburn CJ accepted that it was defamatory of a senior public servant . . ‘to say that he publicly demonstrated his sympathy with a political party with a view to receiving a higher appointment from the Government formed by that party’. . That imputation was accepted as defamatory by reason of the implication that the plaintiff had attempted to openly demonstrate his political acceptability to the Government. That allegation assumed, of course, that the Government in question made such appointments on the ground of political acceptability . . In the present case, the article depicts the plaintiff as a favoured recipient of preferment. It is not suggested he improperly sought it, as was the defamatory allegation in Fairbairn v John Fairfax and Sons Ltd (1977) 21 ACTR 1 . . The article did not over-state the role of the Prime Minister in the plaintiff’s career advancement, but it did not impute any unfair or improper conuct to him nor suggest he did not merit such advancement. It did not convey the imputation pleaded. That would require the article to assert that the plaintiff’s qualifications and experience were less important than the favour of the Pdrime Minister. It clearly does not do that.’


Higgins J


[1993] ACTSC 7



Cited by:

CitedMiller v Associated Newspapers Ltd QBD 31-Mar-2010
The claimant sought damages in defamation, saying that the defendant newspaper (Daily Mail) had implied abuse of his friendship with a Police Commissioner to obtain contracts. The defendant denied any meaning defamatory of the claimant.
Held: . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Commonwealth, Defamation

Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.406675