Mark Latham to pay costs and damages to journalist Osman Faruqi in defamation settlement

Former Junkee news and political editor Osman Faruqi has settled his defamation case against exiled Outsiders host and retired Labor politician Mark Latham.

The case began last October after Latham took to his Outsiders YouTube Channel to accuse the journalist of ‘anti-white racism’ and of promoting terrorism. In August, Justice Wigney struck out Latham’s defence in the federal court, describing it as “on just about any view, an extraordinary document”.

Faruqui: ‘This is exactly the result my team and I were hoping for’

Following the case being referred to mediation by the Justice Wigney last week, Faruqi’s lawyers today announced they had reached a settlement with Latham that will see the former Labor leader remove the offending posts and pay legal costs and damages.

Latham set up his YouTube channel after being dumped from Sky News’ Outsiders show in March, 2017 after making homophobic comments about a schoolboy and insulting colleagues and other outlets’ journalists.

Of the three original Outsiders hosts, only Rowan Dean remains on the show after Ross Cameron was dumped following allegedly racist comments during one of the program’s late night showings.

In statement, Faruqi said: “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.

“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.

Lawyers representing Faruqi, Maurice Blackburn added: “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.”

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ Josh Bornstein, who acted for Mr Faruqi, said: “This was an important case and vindication of our defamation laws.

“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.


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