Updated: Wrongly accused Cleo Smith abductor launches defamation suit against Seven

Updated: This article has been updated since it was originally published.

Terry Flowers, who was wrongly attributed in a 7 News report as the abductor of Cleo Smith, has officially launched defamation proceedings against Seven West Media in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, according to a report in The Guardian.

According the the report, Flowers is to be represented by Sue Chrysanthou, SC, a defamation specialist who represented Christian Porter earlier this year in his suit against the ABC.

O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors confirmed to Mumbrella that it had been engaged by Terrance Kelly also known as Flowers and his family to represent him in a defamation claim against the Seven West Media, after it incorrectly posted images of him in relation to the disappearance of Western Australian girl Cleo Smith.

It was reported last week (11 November) that the wrongly attributed Flowers was looking to take legal action against Seven, with the network posting a brief public apology after the story was removed.

Seven declined to comment further after the legal action was confirmed, following a statement on 8 November in response to a ABC report on the case.

The network said that the story was removed 40 minutes after publication, with the images also broadcast in the Sydney and Adelaide markets on the 4pm news. It also stated that it apologised in cooperation with Flowers’ lawyer.

Flowers’ solicitors said: “The publications by the Seven Network led to Mr. Kelly/Flowers being made the subject of hate and derision around the nation and the world and resulted in him being hospitalised with a severe panic attack.”

“It is of great concern to our client and his family that the Seven Network would proceed with a story of this magnitude without being absolutely certain as to its accuracy. The effect of this substantial error has been devastating for them.”

The firm stated that no further details of the case will be discussed at this stage.

O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors commented that this is not the first matter the firm has had against Seven Network involving “the inappropriate use of images depicting Aboriginal persons”.

“In 2017 O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors initiated action against the Seven Network for improperly using footage of Aboriginal persons, filmed for a health campaign in a remote community, as a backdrop to a panel discussion about the abuse, neglect and assault of children.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.