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Aboriginal surfer launches Daily Telegraph defamation case over ‘apeish’ comment

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An aboriginal surfer has filed a legal claim against News Corp’s The Daily Telegraph over comments which described him as “apeish”.

The words referring to surfer Otis Carey first appeared in Morrison Media’s magazine title Surfing Life, but the magazine later removed the offensive phrase from its online version of the story.

Despite a hasty apology from the magazine, the 26-year-old surfer pursued the claim and settled out of court. He is now gunning for The Telegraph after it repeated the words online in March, with the next hearing due on September 12.

Lawyers for the Telegraph have until August 22 to file a defence against claims the newspaper defamed Carey.

In the Telegraph article, written by Briana Domjen, the exact sentences used in the Surfing Life story were repeated. It has since been removed from the Telegraph website.

Carey’s lawyer, Simon Maxwell from Sanford Legal, told Mumbrella three imputations are being pursued; that his client has an apeish face, that he is sub human and that as he is of Aboriginal descent he is racially inferior.

Two other imputations were dismissed at an earlier hearing in the NSW District Court.

But the surfing world appears split on the defamation claim with some comments on surfing websites claiming Carey is being opportunistic while others have thrown their support behind the surfer, arguing that Australia remains a casually racist country.

News Corp declined to comment.

Steve Jones

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