Australian Newspaper Editor threatens Libel over Live Tweets

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Live tweets by Julie Posetti (pictured above) led to threats of a defamation lawsuit. (Credit: Twitter)

The editor of The Australian newspaper has accused a journalism professor of defamation as a result of her live tweets.

As reported, The Australian’s newspaper’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell claims that University of Canberra journalism professor Julie Posetti committed defamation when Posetti posted on Twitter “quotes from former Australian reporter Asa Wahlquist, who was speaking at a conference about her treatment at the newspaper” on Nov. 25.

See Posetti’s Twitter hereWahlquist was a rural reporter for the Australian. She left the newspaper “a month ago,” according to The Age.

Mitchell said he would sue Posetti over the tweets, the Australian reported Nov. 26.  His lawyers sent Posetti a letter Nov. 29 asking for an apology.

The letter reported some of the comments Posetti reportedly tweeted.  The tweets suggested that Mitchell “bullied” and “intimidated” Walhquist, and “personally caused Ms Wahlquist to change her articles to represent his views.”

The letter further stated that Walhquist wrote to Mitchell about the tweets denying that the comments were not an accurate reflection of her comments.  “Those ‘tweets’ were inaccurate and taken out of context,” Wahlquist is quoted as saying. However, the letter does admit that Wahlquist made “some of the statements.”

Regardless, the letter criticized Posetti for not “seeking to verify the material” with Mitchell.  See the letter to Posetti here.

Meanwhile, the Australian published an article that called Posetti’s tweets “a fair summary of what Wahlquist said,” The Age noted.  Likewise, Australia’s ABC News reported that an audio recording of Wahlquist’s remarks “proves that much of the information tweeted was actually said.”

Posetti will not apologize.  Posetti’s lawyer responded in a letter  to Mitchell’s lawyers stating that Posetti “denies Mr Mitchell’s assertion that she has defamed him.”

The lawyer, Andrew Miers, wrote that Posetti will not apologize or correct her statements via Twitter.

“The Twitter posts by our client about which your client complains were a fair and accurate summary of matters stated by Ms Wahlquist.”

“Our client in her Twitter posts gave a fair summary of the matters stated by Ms Wahlquist and clearly held out those posts as being reports of statements attributed to Ms Wahlquist and not our client’s own views…Our client does not suggest that everything Ms Wahlquist said was necessarily true and our client did not adopt those views and comments as her own, but that does not disentitle our client from her right to publish a fair report of Ms Wahlquist’s comments.”

See the letter to Mitchell here.

According to, Australia’s defamation laws rule that “accurately reporting someone’s defamatory remarks is itself defamation.”

Crikey argued that The Australian “misses the point” of tweeting.

“Posetti was tweeting about what was happening, live, in front of her.  Mitchell could have joined the conversation any time he liked.”

iMediaEthics previously wrote about tweets leading to arrests, libel suits and fines in British courts here. We are writing Mitchell and Posetti ‘s lawyer, Andrew Miers for comment.

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Australian Newspaper Editor threatens Libel over Live Tweets

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