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FHA, Macartney-Snape Defamation Case In Court

5 November 2001

The defamation action the Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood (FHA) is taking against the ABC and John Fairfax Publications is in court for the first time today.

The separate actions relate to a series of media reports in 1995, particularly an ABC Four Corners program and a Sydney Morning Herald article, concerning the FHA, its directors - including mountaineer Tim Macartney-Snape AM and biologist Jeremy Griffith - and others.

Over the next four days the NSW Supreme Court will hear Bret Walker SC for the ABC and Henric Nicholas QC for Fairfax argue to have some of the defamatory meanings the FHA alleges the publications contain struck from the claims.

‘Strikeout’ hearings are a normal part of significant defamation actions, particularly if the plaintiffs impute multiple instances of defamation to the cited publications. This week’s hearings set the stage for jury hearings, expected to take place next year, to decide whether or not the plaintiffs have been defamed.

“We are looking forward to the process of having our matter heard,” FHA spokesperson Tim Macartney-Snape said.

“We exhausted all other avenues before embarking on these proceedings. When the Australian Broadcasting Authority ruled in our favour against the ABC in 1998, then some months later took the unprecedented step of advising the ABC that it would be appropriate to apologise to us, we expected we would get that apology, but we did not. We were left with no option but to clear our name through the courts,” he said.

The FHA is a small philanthropic organisation which supports a new biological understanding of human nature put forward in Jeremy Griffith’s books, Free: The End Of The Human Condition and Beyond The Human Condition, and other publications.

Counsel appearing for the FHA and other plaintiffs is Kieran Smark, of Blackstone Chambers.