The Australian newspaper falsely claimed a former Parliament member, Dr. Dennis Jensen, left his wife to move in with another woman and pitched his novel to a publisher using parliamentary letterhead.
Those claims were libelous, and now the Australian must pay him $325,000 Australian (around $227,000 U.S.), Chief Justice Peter Quinlan of the Supreme Court of WA ruled. Jensen was elected to Parliament in 2004 and re-elected until 2016’s general election.
The Australian declined to comment to iMediaEthics about the ruling. iMediaEthics has written to Jensen’s lawyer.
Jensen lost an election just after the articles were published, according to the Australian wire service the Australian Associated Press. The judge, Quinlan, ruled that The Australian‘s journalist, Andrew Burrell, didn’t verify an anonymous source-provided copy of the alleged letter, according to the Australian Association Press. Further, the second article wrongly implied Jensen left his wife for another woman, when in fact, his wife left him.
“In the circumstances, given the familial difficulties that that breakdown would already have caused, such a public falsehood, I accept, would have particularly hurt Dr Jensen,” the judge ruled, according to the AAP which noted Quinlan found the articles probably didn’t impact his election.
CORRECTION - March 12, 2020 6:49 PM
The matter was a legal ruling, not a settlement, as iMediaEthics stated in one instance. We regret the error.