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.
Terri Butler MP