Australia’s Fairfax Media apologized to politician Warren Mundine after accusing him of helping a mining company get permission to work on Aboriginal lands.
“Fairfax alleged that Indigenous Investment Management (IIM), in which Mr Mundine was a shareholder, was engaged by Reward Minerals to convince the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corp to drop its opposition to a mine at Lake Disappointment,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Mundine is the chief Indigenous adviser to Australian prime minister Tony Abbott.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Mundine sued for libel over a July 11 article, “Mine deal allegations against Warren Mundine and Aboriginal corporation.”
In a statement on Mundine’s business’s website, Mundine said he settled the lawsuit with Fairfax after Fairfax agreed to apologize.
Mundine called the claims about him “untrue, harmful to my reputation and standing, both personally and professionally, and particularly damaging to me as an Aboriginal man who regularly deals with Indigenous people, communities and organisations.”
“Fairfax has acknowledged that I had nothing to do with the Lake Disappointment deal, directly or indirectly,” Mundine wrote. “They have published an apology in their print and online publications and have withdrawn all criticisms of me.”
He noted that Fairfax said it would remove those claims about him and not make them again.
“I wish to reiterate that I was never involved in negotiations or discussions between Reward and WDLAC or the Martu people, either directly or behind the scenes, nor received any benefits in connections with those dealings,” he added.
Mundine went on, “Notwithstanding the apology and retraction, the harm done to me both personally and professionally by this episode can never be completely undone. I would have preferred not to have spent a year of my life living under the shadow of these allegations and a good part of that year working to reverse this injustice.”
Fairfax told iMediaEthics by e-mail that “the original investigation was not removed but simply amended” and pointed to this story from July 13, “Plea to Tony Abbott for help pays off Aboriginal elders.”
The apology states: “On 12 and 13 July 2014, Fairfax published a series of articles in connection with a mining deal at Lake Disappointment, WA involving the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC) which referred to the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine. Fairfax did not intend to suggest that Mr Mundine had anything to do with WDLAC or the Lake Disappointment deal and Fairfax apologises to Mr Mundine and withdraws any criticism made of him.”