San­der­son to Stin­son – say sorry or I’ll sue

Sunday Mail - - NEWS -

In a state­ment last night, Ms Stin­son said: “I’ll con­sider the cor­re­spon­dence. I wel­come the op­por­tu­nity for full trans­parency on all as­pects of the min­is­ter’s vis­its to res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­i­ties.”

In the le­gal let­ter, a copy of which has been ob­tained by the Sun­day Mail, Ms San­der­son warns Ms Stin­son un­less she re­tracts her state­ments and apol­o­gises, ag­gra­vated dam­ages would be pur­sued in Supreme Court defama­tion ac­tion.

The le­gal ac­tion, which the Premier’s of­fice is aware of, was trig­gered by a se­ries of pub­lic state­ments the for­mer TV jour­nal­ist and La­bor ad­viser made on sev­eral ra­dio pro­grams last month.

She aired them after The Ad­ver­tiser re­vealed claims about an April visit the min­is­ter made to a res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity along with her depart­ment chief ex­ec­u­tive Cathy Tay­lor. La­bor and unions have called for an ex­pla­na­tion after a youth, 17, ab­sconded from the fa­cil­ity and later al­legedly went on a crime spree in the wake of the visit.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the April 14 crime spree – which in­cluded petrol drive offs and a wild pur­suit – have ex­am­ined the cir­cum­stances lead­ing up to it. The youth is fac­ing charges.

Ms Stin­son was later in­ter­viewed by ABC Ra­dio, FIVEaa and Triple M where she made com­ments about Ms San­der­son’s con­duct. Those com­ments, which the min­is­ter re­jects, can­not be re­peated for le­gal rea­sons. The Ad­ver­tiser is not em­broiled in the dis­pute.

In the con­cerns no­tice, Ms San­der­son’s lawyer, Tony Rossi, who is not billing the tax­payer, states there was no ba­sis for Ms Stin­son to make the se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions about her com­pe­tence or re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Ms Stin­son, he wrote, had ig­nored calls to apol­o­gise about the claims that she had as­sured the pub­lic were true and thor­oughly re­searched.

“You were mo­ti­vated by mal­ice to­wards the min­is­ter in seek­ing, with­out ev­i­dence … (to make) se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions in or­der to cause rep­u­ta­tional harm,” he writes.

“Given her promi­nence in South Aus­tralian pol­i­tics, the false­hood ex­pressed in the pub­li­ca­tion and re­pub­li­ca­tions con­sti­tute a se­ri­ous and un­truth­ful al­le­ga­tion against the min­is­ter.”

“The rep­u­ta­tional harm is likely to jeop­ar­dise her po­lit­i­cal suc­cess and … you were … clearly mo­ti­vated by a de­sire to harm the min­is­ter’s stand­ing in the com­mu­nity.

“(She) has suf­fered distress as a con­se­quence. You acted with con­tu­me­lious dis­re­gard as to whether the se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions were true or the harm they were likely to cause.”

Mr Rossi states a “rea­son­able com­pro­mise” in­cludes apolo­gies on Ms Stin­son and La­bor’s so­cial me­dia, on ra­dio and at a press con­fer­ence, as well as le­gal costs of at least $3300. Ms San­der­son de­clined to com­ment.

Jayne Stin­son

Rachel San­der­son

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