‘Racism’ complainant sues paper for $1.6m
A Cambodian Australian whose complaint against The Australian for racial discrimination has been thrown out by the Australian Human Rights Commission is seeking $1.6 million in Federal Court damages.
Gold Coast resident Sokhom Prins has launched the action against three staff of The Australian — journalists Hedley Thomas and Chris Merritt, and columnist Janet Albrechtsen — as well as its publisher, Nationwide News, and chief executive, Nicholas Gray, claiming she has been the victim of racial hatred.
Ms Prins, who is legally unrepresented and calls herself a “victim of racism” on Twitter, alleges the newspaper and its staff have breached section 18C of the Human Rights Act.
She has applied for her husband, Hendrik Prins, who is not a lawyer, to represent her.
Section 18C makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate anyone because of their race, colour or ethnic origin.
Ms Prins has written abusive emails to journalists at The Australian, in which she has labelled them “the enemy”, called them “white racists” and said they were part of a “white racist posse” for calling for changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Last year, the Federal Court dismissed a complaint by administration worker Cindy Prior, who tried to sue three Queensland University of Technology students for $250,000 after they posted comments on Facebook about being asked to leave an indigenous-only computer room.
The case prompted calls for the legislation to be overhauled because of its impact on free speech.
Ms Prins first complained to the AHRC about racial hatred but her complaint was terminated on July 11 because it was lacking in substance. In dismissing her complaint, an AHRC official wrote: “It is not clear how the acts complained of could be said to have been done because of your Asian race or ethnic origin or the race or ethnic origins of Asian people more broadly.”
The official said the article and the emails complained of did not refer to her race or ethnic origin, or to any particular racial group or national or ethnic origin.
A spokesman for Ms Prins yesterday declined to comment.
The first court date is October 9, in the Federal Circuit Court.
In her blog, Ms Prins says she fights for women’s rights and empowerment. She says her memoir reveals the “sinister intention of gay activists worldwide” to “convert children to gays”, and exhorts “Hetero’s” to “rise up, destroy evil, save the planet from gay pollution”.