original post follows:
I’m getting sued for defamation by the Australian Home Heating Association. Probably because they hate this blog, and they especially hate entries like this one: Countering Industry Propaganda
My fight for clean air justice reminds me so much of another fight in times past, the overthrow of British Colonial rule in India.
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi is a respected man and he even has his own statue here in Wellington:
It isn’t anything on the blog that is defamatory to the Australian Home Heating Association, but in a private email I sent to local Kapiti Newspapers, various Kapiti Councillors, another clean air advocate, and the woodsmoke pollution retailer on Kapiti Road. What follows is my response to the lawyer who sent me the threatening email. The letter in itself I don’t think is defamatory, as truth is not defamatory. This will give you an idea of how desperate the Australian Home Heating Association is to shut me up. I only speak the truth. They can fight me, but I will win. Thanks Mahatma.
To Christopher Bruce
Donaldson Walsh, Lawyers
320 King William Street
ADELAIDE SA 5000
I have received your threats and I have framed an appropriate response:
Firstly I want to say that that email was a private email between me and the intended recipients. It’s possession by your client is a breach of trust of one of those recipients. You may note that in its contents it specifically asks for the Australian Home Heating Association not to be in anyway involved in my affairs, as I consider your client in the past to have caused me both financial and emotional damage, and I don’t want any dealings with them. That is a natural fear I have of them after their bullying and harassment of the past, but if I tell people I don’t want dealings with the AHHA (or it’s NZ offshoot), (and council workers in Tea Tree Gully did pass my details on in the past, so it is a rational fear that they might), then by way of explanation I state those facts that I assert, that your client contests, are indeed an accurate description of how my fears came about. So they were in context, fair and truthful.
I have contacted each of those I addressed in my original email to say that my email announcing the wonderful new blog of mine, Clean Air Society of Kapiti Coast was intended for those people in the local district who would be interested in its existence. Again these emails are private emails (and no doubt the person who availed themselves to snitch on me to the AHHA will do it again) so you can wait for that, but here’s a snippet. I also say that your client has no business knowing what I say privately to those people.
In those private emails I addressed each of your clients concerns, and I did so in a manner where I asserted that they were all true. And then I told the story of how I came to believe them to be true. This is the one where I lost my house to wood smoke when I lived in Adelaide at great cost to me, because I had to move away. I also told them that the original email and the current response email were indeed private between me and them.
I have taken your threat, and offer no compensation to your client. It was incredibly rude and malicious of them to ask, and I consider it harassment.
I don’t want to forgo the right to speak freely about the issue of wood smoke and I give it from a victim’s perspective. I was a victim of woodsmoke. I got no justice. At great personal cost I had to move home. I consider those costs were borne by me, and in large part were caused by your client and its action preventing a fair solution to my then problem. If any compensation was to be paid it would be from your client to me and it would be thousands of dollars.
I take this defamation threat as another bullying tactic to shut me up. The language I used that so annoyed your client is only validated by this current action of theirs (and yours too Christoper, you’re not absolved of responsibility)
I will stand up and say that my comments were private. They were also true and correct. They were not defamatory. I have no doubt that any judge would see it my way too. Your client’s reputation was not damaged by my comments because they were truthful. The reputation of the AHHA is indeed held in the community that has dealt with it to be very sickly anyway, so I am afraid you would have to prove that it is held in any esteem in the first place, which I don’t think it is.
You may also note I am no longer a resident of Australia, but live in the faraway, magical land of New Zealand.
I assert the right to continue to speak my mind on woodsmoke issues, and everything else. I also assume that this email is an end to the threat and I consider the threat withdrawn.
I also assert the right to breathe clean air.
In regards to the particular demands:
a full retraction – no, because that would require me to lie.
an apology to your client – no, because they don’t deserve one, because I have only been truthful.
financial compensation – no, because no defamation occurred.
This is an end of the matter.