Quaden Bayles, the nine-year-old Aboriginal boy who went viral internationally for being a victim of bullying, is now suing Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine for defamation.
Back in Feburary, Bayles’ mum Yarraka posted a video of him crying online and saying “I want to die right now,” after being bullied for having dwarfism.
The video quickly attracted heaps of celebrity attention, including from Hugh Jackman and Brad Williams. Bayles even got to walk out on field with the Indigenous All Stars team at a match against the Maori All Stars.
He and his family are now seeking damages from both Devine and her employer, News Corp, for claims that he “dishonestly acted out being distressed in a video to obtain money from donors” and “dishonestly pretended to have been the victim of bullying, thereby hurting genuine victims of bullying”.
“If you get bullied just stand up for yourself.” 9-year-old Murri boy, Quaden tackles bullying head-on and receives an outstanding community response. #EXCLUSIVE #QuadenBayles pic.twitter.com/UEJBPiP1Js
— NITV (@NITV) February 21, 2020
The claims stem from a series of now-deleted tweets.
On February 21, Devine quote-tweeted a baseless allegation that Bayles was in fact an “actor” whose mum posted the video to get almost $300,000 in donations (the donations, which eventually totaled more than $700,000, will actually go to anti-bullying charities).
Devine added: “That’s really rotten if this was a scam. Hurts genuine bullying victims.”
The tweet pushed into the mainstream the theory that the whole thing was a hoax, with one person thanking her for “sharing and finding out the truth”, adding: “I just can’t grasp how truly evil this is”.
“And coaching the kid to say those things that no nine year old would say,” Devine replied.
The user then said: “It’s a crime if it is a scam. Child abuse. How could any parent do this?”
To this, Devine said “exactly” and added that she was “on the case.”
Devine and News Corp haven’t yet filed a defence, but she again took to Twitter to claim that there had been a “disinformation campaign about my Quaden Bayles tweets.”
At least this time, her name actually will be “on the case.”