This is the full text of the Judgement by Mr. Justice Higgins in the Abbott and Costello defamation action against Random House, publishers of “Goodbye, Jerusalem”, by Bob Ellis.
The Hon. Peter Howard Costello and Tanya Pamela Costello v Random House Australia Pty Limited
The Hon. Anthony John Abbott and Margaret Veronica Abbott v Random House Australia Pty Limited
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
File nos – Nos. SC 224 & 228 of 1997
No. of paras – 469
DEFAMATION – Publication of defamatory matter – False allegations of shallow political commitment and lack of chastity – Whether matter capable of conveying alleged imputations – Test of ordinary reasonable reader – Natural and ordinary meaning to apply – Mere speculation of reader not relevant – Whether inferences defamatory in fact – Whether ridicule of plaintiffs’ political commitment defamatory in fact – Whether allegation of lack of chastity defamatory in fact – No requirement for special damage where allegation of unchastity – Standard of middle class morality to apply – Imputations held defamatory.
DEFAMATION – Publication of defamatory matter – True innuendos – Whether extrinsic facts sufficient to convey alleged true innuendos – Innuendos held not to arise.
DEFAMATION – Compensatory damages – Extent of damage to reputation where plaintiff is public figure – Whether damage mitigated by defendant – Extent of injury to feelings – Whether aggravated damages appropriate – Whether defendant’s conduct unjustifiable, improper or lacking bona fides – Aggravated damages awarded.