Case Law, Australia: Rafiq Ahmed v Nationwide News – newspaper loses action brought by “corrupt” cop

15 06 2012

A fraud quad detective who was called “corrupt” by The Sunday Telegraph comprehensively won his defamation action in the NSW District Court. The jury found malice on the part of the paper

NSW District Court, Bozic J and a jury of four

May 31, 2012

Rafiq Ahmed, a fraud squad detective who was called “corrupt” by The Sunday Telegraph has comprehensively won his defamation action against Nationwide News.

After three and a half hours’ deliberation, a jury of two men and two women rejected all of News’ defences, finding the newspaper published the story maliciously.

Ahmed pleaded five imputations for a story titled Special report NSW police officers shamed by dealings on the dark side – Rogues gallery of corrupt cops, which appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and on its website on November 8, 2009.

(a) He is a rogue.

(b) He is one of the most corrupt cops in NSW.

(c) He was convicted of a home loan mortgage scam.

OR

(d) He is guilty of a home loan mortgage scam.

(e) He had an improper association with criminals.

(f) He engaged in corrupt activities.

News pleaded truth, contextual truth, fair report (section 29) publication of documents (section 28) qualified privilege (section 30) honest opinion (section 31) fair comment and offer of amends in defence.

On 31 May 2012 the jury rejected all the paper’s defences.

It found imputations (a), (b), (d), (e) and (f) conveyed and defamatory, but found News had failed to establish the truth of any of them.

A contextual imputation that “the plaintiff was charged and found guilty of having engaged in fraudulent activities” wasn’t conveyed.

The jury dismissed the comment defence finding none of the imputations was conveyed as an expression of opinion.

It rejected Nationwide News’ offer of amends defence on the basis that it wasn’t reasonable.

While the jury found The Telegraph’s police reporter had made reasonable inquiries before publication – upholding the defence of statutory qualified privilege – it found the paper was actuated by express malice when it published the article.

Appearances

For the plaintiff: Clive Evatt and Roger Rasmussen instructed by Ejaz Khan of Juris Australia Lawyers.

For the defendants: Dauid Sibtain and Lyndelle Brown instructed by Robert Todd of Ashurst Australia and Jane Summerhayes (News).

Reporter: Y.C. Kux.

This case report originally appeared in the Gazette of Law and Journalism – Australia’s leading online media law journal.


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19 06 2012

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