PR firm which released details of Nauru sex assault complainant considering legal action over ‘defamatory’ PRIA statement

mercer PRMercer PR, the agency which released the identify of a sexual assault complainant on Nauru, has shot back at claims its behaviour was unethical and has said it is considering its legal position in relation to the “defamatory statement” issued by PRIA on the incident earlier this week.

The agency came under fire after it distributed a release stating a police investigation had found insufficient evidence over serious allegations of a sexual assault made by a female Somali refugee who was previously detained in the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.

Overnight Mercer PR has released a statement arguing the media report around the release which was sent on behalf of its client, the government of Nauru, were “inaccurate, sensationalised and in the cases of some of the articles talking about our company, puerile”.

“Completely contrary to reports, neither our client or our company has published the name of the person in question,” Mercer PR stated in its release.

“We are not a publishing company. Only the media can publish and her name has not been published anywhere.”

PRIA-logoThe agency asserted it had “acted legally and ethically at all times” whilst rejecting “any claim to the contrary”.

“We are considering our legal position in regard to the defamatory statement issued by PRIA,” Mercer PR said.

The agency also rejected reports it had “gone to ground”.

“We are simply focused on servicing our clients in the manner we always have, rather than answering ridiculous questions no one in Australia cares about, like the settings on our social media accounts. Just because we choose not to give a particular journalist a response to questions doesn’t mean we are hiding.”

The comment refers to Crikey’s story that Lyall Mercer, the principal of the Brisbane-based agency, had upped security setting on his PR agency’s online presence since the story broke on Monday.

Mercer PR asserted its role in the incident was “limited to facilitating the flow of information between our client and the media and we have no influence on Government policy or decisions.”

“Every government, company and organisation has the right to effectively communicate their message and engage communication professionals,” they said.

“Some journalists have even contacted our other clients, presumably in an effort to affect our business. This is unethical.”

PRIA has been contacted for comment.

Miranda Ward

Update 12.30pm PRIA has responded with the following statement:

We have seen your story this morning. PRIA receives queries, from a range of publics, on the topic of ethics regularly and we received a number of queries during the past week. It is our duty as the professional body to highlight the constant need for ethical conduct and to work within requirements for privacy.


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