A private school principal lost a defamation lawsuit against a prominent community activist over a Facebook post she claimed was covering up an alleged child abuse, court documents say.
Mandy Randell, principal of the Central West Leadership Academy in Dubbo, launched a civil suit in the New South Wales District Court in August 2021 seeking damages from Karina McLachlan.
Ms McLachlan was the administrator and moderator of Dubbo Wellington’s Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Facebook page, which at the time had approximately 2,600 members.
The lawsuit relates to comments and images McLachlan allegedly shared on his Facebook page.
“About a week ago I received this threat from Mandy Rendell. [sic] lawyer. I deleted the post, but I cannot support covering up child abuse. As a community, we must stand up for traumatized children,” she wrote in court documents.
Randell claimed the post contained accusations of defamation, including that she abused and traumatized a child, engaged in child abuse, and attempted to cover it up. was
According to the complaint, the alleged defamation caused Ms. Randell to be disliked, seriously harmed, ridiculed, insulted, reputationally damaged and emotionally scarred.
The principal alleged that Ms McLachlan acted with reckless indifference to the truth in the ongoing campaign against Ms Randell, according to a statement of allegations.
Randell said the matter was “viewed and downloaded, including by persons unknown to the plaintiff,” adding that “the content of the Facebook post was made by people who knew the plaintiff, particularly those who lived in or near Dubbo.” It was widely disseminated and discussed among the public,” he added. “Details of the release will be provided following discovery and interrogation,” it said.
But Judge Judith Gibson found that the details in the allegation statement did not explain what the “harm” was.
Her Honor also said it was not clear “how serious harm would result from publication.”
Judge Gibson found that plaintiff served an “invalid notice of concern,” which failed to fully answer in detail and “provided adequate detail in the statement of her allegations.” I couldn’t do it.”
“The problem was plaintiffs’ failure to provide key details that they should always provide (barring serious damages), not the level of difficulty of the issue,” she said.
Judge Gibson reversed the notice of concern, dismissed the proceedings, and ordered Ms. Randell to pay Ms. McLachlan’s legal costs.
McLachlain said the decision provided a “welcome end” to a “costly and stressful” lawsuit for her.
“Ms. Randell made numerous legal threats against me if I did not agree to her terms, but I felt that defending myself was the only right option. I’m very happy that I stuck with my gun,” she said.
https://thewest.com.au/news/private-school-principals-costly-defamation-loss-c-8714175 Expensive Defamation Loss of Private Principal