Andrew Bolt loses racial vilification court case from The Australian
HERALD Sun columnist Andrew Bolt has lost an action brought in the Federal Court in which the columnist was accused of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act.
Bolt was found to have contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Nine aboriginal applicants brought a class-action against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times claiming Bolt wrote they sought professional advantage from the colour of their skin.
There were cheers and applause in the court when Justice Mordecai Bromberg read out his verdict.
He ordered no settlement on the parties, who will negotiate between them what measures Bolt and the Herald Sun will take.
In the judgment, the Justice said he was satisfied that the fair skin Aborigines were “offended, assaulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed by the newspaper articles”.
The Justice ruled that Bolt could not use fair comment or public interest to defence those particular articles.
At issue was Bolt's assertion that the nine applicants had chosen to identify themselves as “Aboriginal” and consequently win grants, prizes and career advancement, despite their apparently fair skin and mixed heritage.
The nine applicants were led by activist Pat Eatock and included artist Bindi Cole, NSW Australian of the Year Larissa Behrendt, author Anita Heiss and former ATSIC chief Geoff Clark.
Four articles published by the Herald Sun columnist in the newspaper and his blog were “a head-on assault on a group of highly successful and high-achieving” Aborigines, Ron Merkel QC told the court during proceedings in late March and early April.
The nine people sought an apology from the Herald & Weekly Times and an order against republishing, but no compensation.
In an occasionally explosive case, Bolt’s writings about Aboriginal identity were painted as being akin to a “eugenics approach” and similar to writings that led to the Holocaust.
Bolt subsequently protested the slurs in court as “an unforgivable travesty.”
In concluding the eight day proceedings, counsel for the plaintiffs conceded Bolt's writings did not incite “racial vilification or racial hatred”, rather they “constituted highly personal, highly derogatory and highly offensive attacks” on the nine individuals.
Andrew Bolt says on his blog:
I am very grateful to all the readers who have offered me support and sympathy. I’m afraid I cannot respond or comment further for now. But I can’t tell how moved I am. And how sad, but not just for myself.
I am sorry to the hundreds of people who’ve responded on this thread. I am extremely touched by your support, but the moderators obviously need to get guidance on what we dare publish. Such are the times.