David Leyonhjelm fails to have Sarah Hanson-Young defamation suit thrown out
Sarah Hanson-Young’s defamation lawsuit against a fellow senator will proceed after the federal court rejected a bid to have it halted.
The Greens senator is suing the Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm over interviews he gave between 28 June and 2 July to Sky News, Melbourne radio station 3AW and the ABC’s 7.30 program, and a media statement posted on Medium.com on 28 June.
In the material, he elaborated on his comment to Hanson-Young on the floor of parliament to “stop shagging men” amid a debate on legislation seeking to prevent violence against women.
In his application to have the case stayed, Leyonhjelm argued that parliamentary privilege precluded him from
running a truth defence.
Among other contentions, Leyonhjelm said any reputation damage arose from Hanson-Young’s own words when she said “he’s slut-shaming me” during a radio interview.
The court was told she denied saying all men were rapists as attributed to her and Hansard did not record her saying those words.
In his judgment on Wednesday, Justice Richard White dismissed Leyonhjelm’s application. His counsel flagged a likely appeal.
The judge also ordered Leyonhjelm to pay Hanson-Young’s costs.
The case will return to court on 18 December.
In her action, Hanson-Young said she was defamed by Leyonhjelm’s portrayal of her as a hypocrite and misandrist, in that he alleged she said words in parliament that were “tantamount” to claiming all men are rapists but “nevertheless had sexual relations with them”.
Her barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, previously told White that the senator was suing over comments made outside parliament.
Leyonhjelm had no redress relating to his defence merely because the subject matter of those words concerned something that may or may not have happened in parliament, she said.
“A person is not entitled to walk outside of parliament and fabricate an assertion as to what was said and attempt to defeat a defamation claim under the guise of parliamentary privilege,” Chrysanthou said.