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Updated: Clementine Ford takes legal action against Fairfax Media

Author and feminist activist Clementine Ford has launched a defamation suit against her former employer Fairfax Media over public  comments made by executive editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, Tory Maguire, accusing Ford of making ‘vile and personal attacks’ on the mastheads journalists and editors after they stopped publishing her columns.

The claim, filed on the 8th of March, concerns a statement made by Maguire to the Guardian’s Amanda Meade, following the last-minute abandonment of an interview with Ford conducted by Kerrie O’Brien for the Saturday Spectrum.

 

Ford, a former columnist for the Herald and the Age, departed the then-Fairfax mastheads in 2019 citing claims that she had been suspended in 2018 for calling Scott Morrison a ‘fucking disgrace’ on social media.

The court filing names Maguire and Fairfax as respondents to the defamation claim on the basis that for the purpose of the comments Maguire was acting ‘acting in her capacity as an agent and/or employee of Fairfax Media’.

The full statement by Maguire reads as follows:

“Clementine Ford spent years making vile and personal attacks on the journalists and editors of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age after the mastheads stopped publishing her column,” Maguire told Weekly Beast. “I had knocked back a pitch for an interview with her but there was a breakdown in communication and it was commissioned and published in error. I have pulled it from Spectrum and taken it down out of respect for my team.”

Ford will be represented high profile solicitor Rebekah Giles, whose clients include Brittany Higgins and Christian Porter.

According to Giles, the statement ‘has caused, and/or is likely to cause, serious harm to Ford’s reputation’ and is likely to impact sale’s of Ford’s most recent book, released on the 4th of November 2021.

The court filing also claims that a concerns notice was sent to Maguire and Fairfax in regards to the statement on the 4th of February but was met with a ‘derisive response’.

A court date has not yet been set.

Updated: 5 April, 2022

Nine Entertainment settled the defamation action with Ford on Tuesday, choosing not to file a defence against the suit.

Federal Court judge Jayne Jagot ordered the publisher and Maguire to pay Ford $39,000 in damages and accrued legal costs, expected to be around $20,000.

In a statement made on Instagram, Ford said:

“Today’s judgment is a win not just for me, but for all the women who are relentlessly attacked and misrepresented by media organisations so deeply wedded to their own hubris that they assume we will not fight back.

“Robust dialogue and even disagreement must always be celebrated in the public sphere, but I will not stand by as mendacious lies are put forward about me and my conduct, especially towards colleagues. The entry of judgment in my favour today by consent represents an acceptance that the statement made by Tory Maguire about me and against me was false and defamatory, and I feel vindicated in this outcome.

“I would like to thank my exceptional legal team, Sue Chrysanthou SC and Rebekah Giles and Nadine Mattini from Company Giles – the support and guidance they have provided throughout this unnecessary ordeal has been invaluable.”

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