Mark Latham’s tweets about MP Alex Greenwich not defamatory, court told

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A homophobic tweet by former NSW One Nation Leader Mark Latham targeting MP Alex Greenwich was “crass and vulgar” but not defamatory, his lawyers have claimed.

The Sydney MP launched defamation proceedings against the controversial and newly-independent Mr Latham in May last year following a graphic and homophobic tweet.

In a statement of claim, Mr Greenwich alleged Mr Latham painted him as “not a fit and proper person” to be in parliament because he “engages in disgusting sexual activities”.

He further alleged Mr Latham portrayed him as “a disgusting human being who goes to school to groom children to become homosexuals” in a subsequent media interview.

Appearing before a second day of hearings at the Federal Court on Thursday, Mr Latham’s barrister, Mr Kieran Smark SC, said the “primary tweet was a striking publication”.

He went on to describe other tweets by Mr Latham about the same time as “offensive, crass, and vulgar”, but stated that did not make them defamatory in nature.

“What we say globally is that Mr Latham’s primary tweet may have wounded Mr Greenwich, but it did not wound his reputation,” Mr Smark told the court.

He later added: “We can see a kind of almost universal – or not quite universal – revulsion at the primary tweet, but that does not directly market is defamatory”.

Mr Smark said the defamation action would have to prove the imputations, that they were defamatory, and that there was serious harm or the likelihood of it.

Much of his opening address, which will continue on Thursday, addressed legal thresholds for proving defamation, including understand the meaning of the tweet.

Mr Latham described Mr Greenwich as “disgusting” and made crude comments about anal sex in the so-called primary tweet, which was removed after just 2.5 hours online.

Taking the stand on Wednesday, Mr Greenwich told the court he took legal action because he “wanted the hate and abuse to stop” and that he had considered leaving public life.

He described the imputation of the comments as being a “justification of the attack” on him and said the tweet, as in his statement of claim, had “saddened me and angered me”.

Under cross examination, he defended calling Mr Latham a “disgusting human being” who was “extremely hateful and dangerous” in an interview days before the tweet.

He denied accusations he expected a response from the comment and reiterated claims he had felt unsafe in public and at his office because of abuse following the tweet.

The first day of hearings otherwise largely focused on the events leading up to the tweet, namely a protest by LGBTQ+ activists of a speaking event by Mr Latham at a Sydney church.

Dr Collins told the court Mr Latham had, in statements after the riot, accused Mr Greenwich of instigating the protest, which he said the Sydney MP was not involved in.

He said Mr Latham had “got the facts hopelessly wrong” and condemned in later statements co-called “transgender radical left wing activists” for the sparking the riot.

More to come.

Read related topics:One NationPauline Hanson

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