Letter of apology

Letter of apology following the ABC's Q and A program.

Dear Mr Thwaites

As you know, I was recently involved in a debate concerning the operation of the anti-vilification provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act, broadcast on the ABC’s Q&A programme on Monday, 21 November 2016. In that debate I made some reference to a case to which you were a party. 

A serious allegation had been made, which was that a racist phrase, “ITT niggers”, had been used in a Facebook post, purportedly under your name. You have given evidence, accepted by the court, that you were not the author. Your legal representative, Mr Morris QC, has described you as a victim of malicious identity theft or a prank, which I accept.

In the course of the debate on Q&A, I made comments which were capable of being understood as meaning that you had been responsible for that Facebook post, making you a racist bigot and that,when you denied using those words in court proceedings, you were being dishonest or disingenuous.

There should be no suggestion that you were responsible for the Facebook post, or that your denial was anything other than the truth. Equally, there should be no suggestion that you are racist, or bigoted. I offer you my unreserved apology for enabling those meanings about you to be conveyed, and for the distress and damage to your reputation caused as a consequence.

You and I have agreed that I will make a modest payment to you, along with a contribution for your legal costs to date, and that you will accept these amounts in the spirit in which they were intended.

Yours faithfully,

Terri Butler MP

Showing 4 reactions

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  • commented 2016-12-19 12:39:25 +1000
    Terri, I was taken aback when I watched you saying those horrible things on Q&A. This whole episode shows we should get rid of 18C. It does not meet international norms, it is a serious constraint on free speech because it is so open to abuse. The recent complaint by the Japanese community about the statue that reminds the community about comfort women is another example of its misuse. It is a barrier to the fair contest of political ideas. This is not about courts being under resourced. It is about vilification of a young man and bullying of others into paying go away money for commentary that should be acceped by all as part of the daily cut and thrust of discussion about use of public resources.
  • commented 2016-12-17 05:36:40 +1000
    Pleased to hear that you had the good sense to seek the advice of a competent and capable lawyer.
  • commented 2016-12-16 17:40:53 +1000
    Perhaps a period of reflective self analysis and a resolution that just maybe those with whom you disagree are not ignorant cretins. And maybe stop the irritating habit of the head shaking matched with the look of condescending disbelief.
  • commented 2016-12-16 13:35:34 +1000
    Well she would say that, wouldn’t she?

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