O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors have released its official media statement in defence of refugee and asylum seeker advocate Shane Bazzi, who is currently being sued by Defence Minister Peter Dutton. It’s an absolutely gorgeous hit-back at a rather unnecessary and excessive defamation lawsuit, and we’re here for it.
On Friday, representatives for Dutton claimed that in a single tweet from February, Bazzi made the imputation that Dutton “condones and excuses rape.”
The tweet in question called Dutton a “rape apologist,” and included a link to a Guardian article in which Dutton makes wild claims about pregnant victims of rape on Nauru.
Dutton is seeking damages, aggravated damages and costs in the case.
In a statement shared by Bazzi to his Twitter, O’Brien absolutely slammed Dutton’s position, claiming that a politician needs to be prepared for “adverse opinions” as part of the job description.
“O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors have been instructed to vigorously defend defamation proceedings brought by the Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, against our client, Shane Bazzi,” O’Brien Solicitors wrote in their statement.
“Mr Bazzi expressed an honest opinion on Twitter that Peter Dutton was a ‘rape apologist’. This opinion was based on a number of publicly reported statements that had been attributed to Mr Dutton.
“A robust and vibrant democracy like ours should cultivate and encourage a diverse array of expressions of opinion on matters of public interest.”
The statement then goes on to mention that Dutton’s suing of Bazzi raises questions about freedom of speech in Australia, a freedom that Dutton himself so vehemently encouraged back in 2019.
“Freedom of speech is a value that our firm will strongly defend. While there must be some limits to that freedom, we will always defend the right of people to hold opinions, especially against politicians,” O’Brien Solicitors continued.
“Those who are elected to public office must expect to be subject to adverse opinions… for a politician to use the defamation law to stifle the expression of a public opinion is cause for a real concern.”
I’ve never seen a more lawyerly takedown in my life. I love.
You can read the full statement as shared by Bazzi right here.
O’Brien Solicitors say they are ready to defend Bazzi wholeheartedly in court.