|Pacific Media Watch|
Pacific academic awarded A$95,000 for cyber libel
Title -- 4174 REGION: Pacific academic awarded A$95,000 for cyber libel
Date -- 7 September 2003
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 6-7/9/3
Copyright -- SM
Status -- Unabridged
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A$95,000 FOR WEB VICTIM
By Peta Hellard
BRISBANE (Sunday Mail/Pacific Media Watch): A former Pacific academic who has been stalked over the internet for five years has begun international action to stop a hate campaign against him.
Trevor Cullen, a journalism lecturer at Edith Cowan University in Perth and former head of communication arts at Divine Word University (DWU) in Papua New Guinea, was this week awarded $95,000 in damages by the West Australian Supreme Court in his defamation case against Los Angeles-based retired lawyer Bill White.
In his judgment, Master David Newnes found White's actions in setting up defamatory websites in Dr Cullen's name and contacting the academic's colleagues with unfounded allegations had come from a "conscious desire to cause the maximum amount of damage, hurt and embarrassment".
The stalking campaign began after White was sacked from DWU in Madang, where he had also worked during Dr Cullen's tenure there.
Dr Cullen was one of about 60 people - including University of Queensland academics, journalists and lawyers and in the South Pacific - to become targets for White's campaigns.
Dr Cullen's legal team will begin contacting internet service providers, domain name registration companies and search engines tomorrow, demanding that the defamatory websites be removed.
"I didn't do this for the money, but for the ruling," Dr Cullen said. "When I originally went to the internet companies asking them to remove the websites, they said they wouldn't do it without a legal ruling."
Dr Cullen said his legal win, believed to be the highest Internet defamation award in Australia, could make internet companies take more responsibility for what they published.
"Internet companies are starting to realise they have to take more responsibility for what they publish because, with cases like mine, they could be challenged and sued over publishing this type of defamatory material," he said.
"I am hoping that my story might help other people not be afraid to step forward if they have been stalked and defamed over the internet in an effort to make it stop."
Professor John Henningham's website: Bill White, cyberstalker:
Dr Cullen's website:
Cafe Pacific on Bill White's vendetta:
PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).
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