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Artists’ exhibition critical of religion declared racist by gallery owner are then sued for writing about it (Melbourne, Australia)

February 17, 2013

Artists Lee-Anne Raymond and Demetrios Vakras are being sued for defamation after reporting their exhibition experience at an Australian gallery in 2009. On opening night, the gallery owner declared the work and the show were racist, ordering the artists out of the gallery, dis-endorsing the show and effectively closing it down with disclaimers. 

 

via Lee-Anne Raymond and Demetrios Vakras

 

This is our story.

We are artists,  Australian surrealist painters. We are currently being sued by a former gallery owner for writing about what he did to us during our exhibition at his gallery in 2009.

In 2009 we, Lee-Anne Raymond and Demetrios Vakras, held an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia at a for-hire gallery, Guildford Lane Gallery (which has since closed). To accompany the exhibition, and to generate some form of income, we produced a full colour publication that included our art manifesto. The catalogue was to be available for sale from its launch at the opening night event and through to the exhibition’s conclusion.

Toward the end of the opening night event the gallery owner, Robert Cripps, launched a tirade of abuse at us. He declared the entire show to be racist, demanded that we leave the gallery and that he did not want racists, our racism, or racist art in his gallery. This occurred before a crowd of onlookers who were still present, none of whom we knew.

Somewhat prior to his tirade, Cripps had refused to allow our publication to be sold, even though it was a subject discussed at considerable length months prior to our exhibition.

After the opening night tirade we did not return to the gallery the next day. The gallery owner made clear to us that the exhibition was terminated. We were waiting for some form of written confirmation (which never materialized  to request that we remove our work and formalize the closing down of the exhibition. On the second day after the tirade we went in to gallery to allay our concerns and our works were still hanging. The gallery owner was not present.

The day after this inspection we were informed by a friend about disclaimers that had been posted throughout and leading to our exhibition space. These were disclaimers of liability installed by the gallery owner over the “content” of our show, with the addition of a large sign saying “WARNING” on the stairs leading up to the show which was intended to dissuade visitors from entering.

Elements of what was written in the publication were printed as extracts and pinned next to the paintings they were associated with. Some essays were critical of religious-based violence. These essays criticized Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Islam and Hinduism. The “racism” charge leveled at us by Robert Cripps was because he claimed any criticism by atheists of Islam, and only Islam, was racist as it did not, according to him, consider the “sensitive situation of the Palestinians”. There was no mention of this conflict or Palestine or Palestinians by us in any part of the content.

We were subsequently subjected to an another tirade when we returned to document the disclaimers. Again, Cripps proclaimed that we were racists, demanded we leave, that we were trespassing, and that he had called the police to remove us for trespass. We offered to remove our work for a full refund which he refused claiming the “racism breached the contract”. Our exhibition was ruined, we were prevented from entering the space we hired for the show, and the gallery owner refused to even be seen to support the show in any manner lest, in contradiction of his disclaimers, he might be seen to be endorsing it. The gallery staff were complicit in that they did nothing to contradict the gallery owner’s lies that he claimed he had made on their behalf. Only now some 3 1/2 years later has one of the gallery staff come forward.

When the “exhibition” term ended we were permitted to enter but only so we could remove our works. For nearly 3 weeks our paintings had hung in this gallery unattended without anyone to defend them against the disclaimers or to sell them as we were denied entry to do so. Essentially our paintings were in “storage” not on “show”. Subsequently Cripps then withheld the money we had paid as a bond as well as money made in the one small sale which had been made prior to his outburst on the opening night when he ordered us out of his gallery. We wrote of our experience on our respective art websites. On April fool’s day 2011 Cripps served us each with a writ for “defamation”. Australian defamation law, like the UK libel laws, has it that if you defend yourself by stating the truth, then you are making an admission of having defamed the plaintiff (Cripps). Though the law’s position is that Cripps cannot be compensated, that is, make a financial gain if the material that defames him is actually true, a defendant, as in our particular case, is financially ruined in defending themselves. In Australian law all he has to show is that he is aggrieved that something bad is written to be able to sue anyone. He does not have to prove anything. We do. It is expensive to sue, and so only someone who is wealthy can proceed. As he boasted of selling his gallery building at a “record” price of over 3.5 million dollars, he has the financial resources to sue us.

To date we have spent AUD$100,000.00 (= €77,000.00; or USD$104,000.00) on our defense  The trial date has only just been confirmed for September 9, 2013. The estimated costs by our counsel that we must pay in advance, before trial, is approximately AUD$130,000.00. This will make the total cost of our defense nearly a quarter of a million Australian dollars!

As mentioned, none of the staff (either the paid or unpaid) present Cripps’ tirades came forward to support us at the time. Only in the week(s) prior to our approaching ArtLeaks did one of his staff come forward as a witness supporting not only that he called us racists, but that he had told all of his staff that we were racists and that he would call the police upon our entering the gallery.

We are on our own here. In Australia the sympathies lie with the liar who is exposed, with the messenger being considered evil, because we reported on the actions that he undertook. We feel abandoned and pretty much shunned by the Australian arts sector. We feel persecuted by a bully with financial means greater than ours and who has the support of our own country’s legal system. Australian law guarantees that this kind of bullying succeeds because by law, anyone who reports on this matter can be sued. ANYONE. One small newspaper here, the Melbourne Observer, that did write a summary of the matter by quoting form a court-released document has been threatened with a law-suit as well. Indeed, Australian law is such that we can be sued for additional damages simply for writing to you about this matter.

We are the only one’s who have spoken out against a person who has victimized many over many years. We refuse to allow our honor and integrity to be diminished without answer. If any reader wishes to show support by writing to us or about us and our situation this is welcome. Matters such as this need to be exposed.  A culture that allows bullies like this to profit by persecuting others and with the seeming support of the law must be exposed. We have written and posted a petition calling for reform of the Australian Defamation Act 2005. Supporting our petition will shine a light on how the law is being used to censor and chill the transmission of information. Please go here to sign our petition. https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/the-hon-mark-dreyfus-qc-mp-amend-the-australian-defamation-act-2005

To provide practical help for our defense readers can do so by purchasing a copy of the catalogue we never had the chance to launch at the exhibition.

At: http://www.humanisttranshumanist.com/

 

With our kind regards,

Lee-Anne Raymond and Demetrios Vakras

 

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To consult more documentation around this case please see Redleg V Artists.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2013 3:27 PM

    I really love this blog. You write about very interesting things. Thanks for all your tips and information.

  2. February 23, 2013 4:24 AM

    A friend let us know that a friend of his emailed to ask…”how can I see the artwork and make sure there is no racism?”

    After many expletives and questioning as to the relative intelligence of such a person – from ME – my more reasoned companion Demetrios wrote this for our friend to pass on to his enquirer…

    “It is not a matter about our art being racist.

    Cripps has denied that he called our art racist, because our art is not racist.

    If he admitted to calling us racist, we would be rich by now which is why he has been advised to deny doing so.

    Maybe your friend could read the petition, which is about truth not being capable of defaming, not about racism.

    In Australia truth is defamatory… We have defamed this person because we have posted, for example, photographs of his disclaimers. Under Australian law, because these photographs offer proof that Cripps is a loser, he is, as a consequence defamed, regardless that the photographs are real… In Australia truth is a justification to defame. In the US truth cannot defame. Our petition is to introduce this American principle into Australian law.

    This is what Cripps objected to: The essay NOT WHAT IS PAINTED (as you already know).
    http://www.humanisttranshumanist.com/vakras/secular-muse-pp25-26.html

    The essay is about reason. If we follow religious calls we’ll all kill one-another.

    There is a page with all the thumbnails available: http://www.vakras.com/catalogue/cat-specs.html or http://www.leeanneart.com/catalogue/cat-specs.html
    thanks for the email…”

    We should not on any ethical or reasoned grounds be being sued at all. As one emailer has remarked to us privately “…I thought I was reading an article from theonion.com…”.

  3. February 20, 2013 9:15 AM

    well look, a few thoughts
    at what point did RC decide to act
    why would that be important, because you were allowed to hang your show before he acted (did he preview your work?)
    what sort of period of time are we talking about, hours, days a week or more after the show was hung before he acted (enough time for him to put together his ‘campaign’?)
    in other words, was his act premeditated
    did he give you an option, ie remove the exhibition or I will act
    was there a cooling off period in the gallery contract?

    when I asked in a previous post, Is RC a devout Muslim, Is he a Palestinian, I was trying to establish his motive, is he one of those things or is he just sympathetic to their cause but not affiliated with any Muslim org or group, is his stance in other words one of convenience and solely designed to entrap and malign you. Is this ‘Muslim’ or ‘defamation’ stance a first time event in his life or has he tried it on other people

    if you win this case RC may take it badly and try for a second act, but if you align with others who have run across him it may put you in a better position

    I tend to start thinking in terms of problem solving methodologies when an issue comes up, any issue really, but that’s another story

    what other artists have made work like your own, there’s a huge amount of critical political, religious art about these days.

    would ASIO be interested in this bloke? Is he trying to raise money for a ’cause’.

    state or federal attorney issue?

    I notice that you’ve started a petition, it might also be worth thinking about doing a survey to find out people’s opinions regarding artist’s rights, indeed the rights of any kind of artist, writers, actors, art support staff, gallery owners etc. This is a big task of course.

    There may be a lot of material available from orgs like the:
    ASA – Australian Society of Authors https://www.asauthors.org/
    Australian Copyright Council http://www.copyright.org.au/
    Australian Law Reform Commission http://www.alrc.gov.au/
    The Law Society – law reform and advocacy http://www.lawsociety.com.au/ForSolictors/advocacy/index.htm

    one could only wish that Jeffry Robertson was hanging out for a bit of work, this case is right up his ally, human rights: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Robertson

    I’m all for conciliation, meet and discuss, apologise if necessary, shake hands and go our separate ways etc. Litigation, I think, should be a last resort.

    • February 23, 2013 7:04 AM

      Hi Barrie,
      Thanks for your postings. I know it is difficult to comprehend and seems fully irrational that it is happening at all. Reason is our way too however the man does not conform to any understanding I have of a person with whom one can reason. Our experience with him is one that is shared by others, however, not over religion. We had been through a vetting process with him and the gallery manager. We had meetings. We told them it would be polemical. We were asked about an Art Visionary exhibition that had been held at Orange, and our response was that this exhibition was contrary to surrealism, many of the works in this show celebrated religious “visions”.

      We have no idea about what Cripps’ stance was regarding religion, but he seems to have the kind of mindset that considers that criticism of religion really means criticism of Christianity. So he was fine with it. Our exhibition proposal included links to our sites. On Demetrios’ site his bio page includes a photograph of him wearing a T-shirt stating “Atheism shall Prevail”, taken when he was 17 and accompanied with criticism of Islam, as well as Christianity. It was not as if we kept this from him. And it was not as if this was to be the purpose of the show. Most of the show had nothing to do with religion. The show was of the full spectrum of surrealism from incongruous juxtapositions to the irrational to the critical.

      His objections to our content occurred after we had posted essays alongside the works. These essays were from our publication. The gallery had been advised that we would be posting essays from the publication beforehand and had raised no objection.
      We are of the opinion that he read what was written and, as he was ignorant of Islam, was horrified with quotes from the Koran. It was the day after we posted the essays that he went a little mad. He wanted to believe, as he told us that “Jews are the source of conflict”. However the quotes from the Koran such as 9.38-52, which advocate that dying while killing unbelievers is the only way to guarantee immediate entry to paradise, he said, could be taken to mean that Muslims were at fault, not Jews, which was insensitive to “Palestinians”, and so according to him we were racists. We can’t explain his reasoning for conflating criticism of Islam with Palistinians.

      At the opening night incident and following we attempted discussion to defend our art and its philosophy. But by doing so this only heightened his agitation with us more. We knew early on we were dealing with a person who cannot be reasoned with once he has found an issue with you. I’m being careful. He has friends I’m sure. However we’ve since heard of or have encountered many, many with a Cripps story to tell. We’re only rare in one way it seems. Not many have stood their ground and none that we know of to our extent (otherwise we’d have know to avoid that gallery because the information would have come up in our research). I love the ASIO angle (we’ll get back to you on that :)). We did offer to remove the show with a refund…he refused he owed us nothing because we’d breached the contract with our “racism”. Rules not part of the contract were demanded about our entry…we were effectively barred and only returned to take our work out of the gallery on the end date. He claims we simply abandoned our exhibition. The petition is really to ensure our experience of the defamation act in Australia realises – eventually – greater and positive change. This would protect a wide range of creative individuals. Freedom to receive and impart truth is at its centre (not an invitation to lie at will as some detractors of the US 1st Amendment will tout). Free speech still has the responsibility of truth. We did email Mr Robertson he must be very busy😉 It is a long road, we are less alone than we were. We also have emailed the petition on to some of those links you too highlight (got one form letter response from The Law Reform Commission which was polite).

      • February 23, 2013 10:30 AM

        I do tend to blather on a bit, glad you found some of my stuff interesting and thanks for the extensive reply. We’re having high winds and monsoon-like rain squalls here at the moment, you could drown standing up in it.
        I’m out of steam at the moment but I’ll drop in on your blog here from time to time, I wish you both luck. Give me a yell if something happens.

  4. February 19, 2013 9:24 AM

    trying to add this comment again…
    The comments may not be working but I’ll give it another whirl. To Barrie regarding the Bennetts Lane Jazz club. This is interesting. A musician has let us know about his poor treatment by Cripps. There may be a connection. It is predicable behaviour once you know the man. It is hidden and protected. It is protected by law so he gets away with it constantly. Were it a lie we’d have a case to answer, in the US it is only defamation if it is a lie. Here in OZ the situation is of course that the reputation bad or good is protected not the truth about that reputation. I am wondering what the english do with crests specified for certain celebrations only due to the unicorn having an erect penis? Clearly a breach of the license conditions (funny). You are correct and we have raised the vexatious litigant angle with our advisers…disturbing to us that this is not immediately recognisable. But the law is antiquated and given to, like the crest protectors, seeking ways to reinforce its hold and status quo. This is defamation law and we are guilty of it as we are defending the claim. If that is sounding more Kafka’s Castle like by the minute you’d be correct. Rational or not this is what we and others have to deal with. The “world of war craft” makes more sense and I’m not being facetious, there are processes, language, rituals, that arguably set the law up as a religious order – it is infallible, it is not to be questioned, dogma defined. We’re navigating it as intelligently as we can – trying to understand its position – but it is un-navigable for the most part and somewhat nonsensical for the remainder. Very precious about criticism of it too.

  5. leeanneart permalink
    February 19, 2013 7:57 AM

    Hi Barrie,
    re your Bennetts Lane Jazz club comment. Interesting. (Sorry I appear to be having trouble with comments. “reply” won’t display or my entered comments are not showing up. I’m trying a direct one this time.) We’ve had a musician let us know how he was treated at this gallery by RC…I can only suspect that similarly the Jazz club too encountered the unreasonable, unreasoned and inappropriate behaviour we did…it shows itself in a variety of ways we’ve discovered through others. It is predictable when you know. But the law is designed that no new comers find out because a reputation is more worthy of protection than the truth of that reputation. If we were lying as with the US system we’d have a case to answer is my point. Here in OZ it doesn’t matter that we have presented the truth. Astonishes me still… and, I’m still trying to work out what celebration the RFT actually use the crest of a unicorn with an erect penis for…clearly a breach of course of the license agreement of course. Pity about the Arts Workers Union…we desperately require such a body that has direct interest in protecting the rights of artists and workers in the sector…

  6. February 18, 2013 11:16 PM

    Quote:
    ‘The “racism” charge levelled at us by Robert Cripps was because he claimed any criticism by atheists of Islam, and only Islam, was racist as it did not, according to him, consider the “sensitive situation of the Palestinians”. There was no mention of this conflict or Palestine or Palestinians by us in any part of the content.’
    end of quote

    This is a very tenuous connection to make, and, it appears that perhaps RC is ticked off for a different reason, religious bias or vilification, not racism (I mean apart from the fact that he’s trying to make a financial killing based on a loose concept around defamation). What would the local Imam make of this claim I wonder.
    I respect an individual’s right to hold beliefs, its part of the UN charter of human rights as well, but the opposite pov has to be true, that believers have to respect the rights of others to not hold religious beliefs.
    How is RC going to prove in court that there is a connection between your artworks and what they express and his claim that they (or you) are vilifying the Palestinians? It seems like a very tenuous argument.
    Is RC a devout Muslim?
    Is he a Palestinian?
    If RC can make loose accusations around ‘racism’ under current defamation laws then anyone can do the same, it would be a lawyers circus and an abuse of legal processes.
    I wish you guys the best of luck.

    BTW have you ever come across the case brought against the artist William Dobell, that his painting of Joshua Smith was a caricature rather that a portrait? What a fiasco, it really adversely affected the poor bastard. http://www.artcollector.net.au/WilliamDobellYoursSincerely

    Anyone that can do that to an artist misses the point entirely, that art, any of the arts are an open forum where artists and others can express and discuss ideas without constraints that govern everyday life, otherwise what we’d have could only be described as creative totalitarianism.

    • February 19, 2013 3:27 AM

      I agree with al of your points here. But current defamation law seems to permit that to criticise an idea held by someone defames them for holding it! However, our difficulties are/were many.

      Cripps in a public space proclaimed us racists.

      He claimed that he did not like the Jews, and the Jew’s sate in Palestine (ergo, Israel occupies Palestine, ie Israel has to go). Ahmadinejad said the same thing and Rudd threatened to take him to the International Court of Justice (http://www.news.com.au/top-stories/rudd-would-charge-irans-leader/story-e6frfkp9-1111114554937 )”Mr Rudd said. ‘It is strongly arguable that this conduct amounts to incitement to genocide, criminalised under the 1948 genocide convention.'” I don’t think that I have to point out that the genocide convention came about precisely because of the actions of Hitler and the Nazis.

      Cripps was commenting on my painting criticising the attack on a secular society by religion, which right now is Islam. (Other works criticised Hitler and Christianity, so it was not a critique of Islam alone). I quote a number of Koranic verses that demand all believers to wage war, that war is good for you because god says so, that dying when killing unbelievers is the only way to guarantee entry to paradise, etc. Cripps said that these quotes would cause people to believe that Muslims, who he said are the victims of Jews, to be the perpetrators of violence instead of Jews, and said that what I wrote was therefore racist. He went on to say that if there were no Jews in Palestine there would be no conflict. Beginning with the last point; the Nazi & Hitler’s claim was the same: Germans were the victims of Jews and so Hitler was forced into WW2 because of the Jews. Hitler made this claim in his speeches; this claim was made throughout the war by Nazi Arab Radio; and so too was the same claim made by his Muslim Nazi side-kick, al-Husseini, who continued making the same claim until his death. (One point the judge & Cripps do not understand: the Nazis included in their number Arab Muslims). The concept here, is that to eliminate Jews is to eliminate conflict. The Germans sought to achieve this by making Germany Judenfrei and Judenrein. I am at a loss to understand how, other than by deportation or extermination, Cripps would propose to solve the problem of Jewish violence (as he saw it) other than to make “Palestine” Judenfrei or Judenrein.

      But our porblem was not this. He denied calling us racists at all, and his disclaimers of liability, he claimed, were because I refused to write my essays in a simpler manner. However, one of his staff (paid/unpaid) has recently come forward and explained that she hung some of these disclaimers because Cripps wanted to protect himself from our racism. So now we have that bit of evidence. The biggest reason for our current legal problem was that his staff did nothing, and allowed him to lie on their behalf….

  7. February 18, 2013 2:32 PM

    Allow me to propose a tried-and-true, creative solution.

    A few years back a friend of mine found himself in a similar situation. He lived in Canada, I live in the US of A. My friend was being sued for defamation, etc. etc. under pretty much the same conditions as here described.

    As you all know, the laws are very different here in the US. As I pointed out (from the safety of an American IPS), I had every right to suggest that the “aggrieved party” was a sewer rat since, in the absence of long whiskers and a tail, this could not be considered literal; I then discussed the conditions under which I might or might not be legally entitled to wonder whether or not his esteemed maman was a crack ho.’ Oddly, the aggrieved party decided to drop the case before I passed on to his second cousin’s imputed pedophiliac proclivities…

    As Baudelaire famously wrote to Manet, “You’ve fallen in the snow. Now make an angel.”

    Cordially,

    Paul Werner
    Editor, WOID. A journal of visual language.

    • February 19, 2013 1:52 AM

      Thanks for your comments Paul. We expected that the matter would have been dropped from the outset. That didn’t happen. Instead we had our web-pages taken offline. Then we had our websites taken offline. Then, when we bought our own server and I set it all up and hosted our sites from our own server in our own house, we were disconnected from the internet completely, courtesy of Robert Cripps and his legal team (Houghton). Then, when we managed to find another means of going online our domains were hijacked. They were recovered and now our sites are hosted in the USA. In Australia if something sounds bad, it is defamatory. You are convicted of the charge until you prove otherwise. In the US it is called what it actually is LIBEL TERRORISM. It’s pretty evil and pretty insidious. Libel Terrorism is enforced here by “black letter lawyer” judges who preside over it. They just follow the letter of the law… just like another lot did and were tried in Nuremberg. (Strangely, in Nuremberg the lawyers exempted themselves from being subject to that which they charged the Nazis).

      On Libel Terrorism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel_tourism#Laws_addressing_libel_tourism
      Article in NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/20/technology/20iht-libel21.1.9346664.html

    • February 19, 2013 9:26 AM

      just attempting to re-post this comment as none appear to be sticking
      Thanks Paul, The “snow angel” for us if one exists (we are trying) is that we are incorporating into our knowledge, character and eventually into our art what we are learning. For visual artists we’ve been doing a lot of research and writing lately, art creation has been set aside by necessity. The other plus is the engagement with people we may not have ever come to know about or be in contact. Our focus is on our defence but also with an eye on the future. Whatever this man and our ILL-legal system may do to us in time our art will reflect this back at him, the society that produced him and all its little handmaidens that now protect him…just as we’ve always done…and some may not be happy with the results. That keeps me going. In what currently seems like a fantasy – that it will end with our retaining our sanity and OUR reputations intact – the US or France grants us artistic asylum…then I wake up…😉

    • February 19, 2013 11:31 PM

      Thanks Paul, The “snow angel” for us if one exists (we are trying) is that we are incorporating into our knowledge, character and eventually into our art what we are learning. For visual artists we’ve been doing a lot of research and writing lately, art creation has been set aside by necessity. The other plus is the engagement with people we may not have ever come to know about or be in contact. Our focus is on our defence but also with an eye on the future. Whatever this man and our ILL-legal system may do to us in time our art will reflect this back at him, the society that produced him and all its little handmaidens that now protect him…just as we’ve always done…and some may not be happy with the results. That keeps me going. In what currently seems like a fantasy – that it will end with our retaining our sanity and OUR reputations intact – the US or France grants us artistic asylum…then I wake up…;)

  8. February 18, 2013 2:53 AM

    Julian Burnside?

    • leeanneart permalink
      February 18, 2013 3:15 AM

      🙂 We contacted him but…I guess we’re not enough on the radar for some?

    • February 19, 2013 1:37 AM

      Hi Barrie, with regards to Julian Burnside, we did contact him. A work colleague of Lee-Anne’s has sold art pieces to him. Burnside did use some of his time to look over the case. I think that the sticking point is always the one about religion. Recently you might be aware of the Roxon bill to limit criticism of religion if the criticism causes embarrassment to those who hold the religious views. … Well, with regards to Burnside; he is a member of Liberty Victoria. Two members of Liberty Vic., Jamie Gardiner and Diane Sisely had made submissions to the effect that freedom of speech has to be limited, even if the speech itself is true, if truth hurts another’s feelings with regards to a “protected attribute”, such as religion.
      This is the link to their submission http://libertyvictoria.org/sites/default/files/Liberty%20Victoria%20submission.pdf

      To make matters ridiculous for Liberty Victoria, Its president, Zifcak, was a signatory to this proposal to limit rights; the significance of this is that he was forced to contradict himself from having supported such a stance when it was exposed for what it was when Spigelman criticsed Roxon’s bill.
      Spigelman’s criticism:
      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/legal-affairs/abc-chairman-jim-spigelman-slams-alp-laws-that-make-it-illegal-to-be-offensive/story-e6frg97x-1226534081839

      Burnside, as it is evident, doesn’t want to hurt his friends and expose himself to being part of an organisation that should change its name to “Liberty Suppression Victoria”.

      The problem with figures like Burnside et al is that they care only about themselves; “doing” causes believed to be good without really caring for them. This is simply mother Teressa-syndrome; claiming concern over other people’s suffering merely to salve one’s own soul.

  9. February 18, 2013 1:29 AM

    Have you tried consulting with Arts Law in Sydney?
    http://www.artslaw.com.au/
    They have a section on defamation.
    http://www.artslaw.com.au/legal-topics/archive/cat/defamation/

    • leeanneart permalink
      February 18, 2013 2:37 AM

      Thanks Barrie, it was our first stop. Unfortunately ArtsLaw is limited in the assistance it could/would provide. We went to the Victorian version back when first sued in March 2011 they sent us straight to a private solicitor. Since then we’ve learnt much about Australian Defamation Law. As in our case is too easily and frequently used to censor truth especially by those with greater financial means to scare off others with much less – your options are: admit it was all a lie and pay the complainant considerable damages (in our case he demanded >150-250k), defend the truth (be continually slugged with threats of much greater damages at trial) and deal with the mounting legal costs of your defence. We’ve already spent 100k defending our case to date and it doesn’t even get to trial until 9th Sept this year. The petition we’ve written above is the result of our experience with the law. We hope others see the sense of our proposed changes too. Thanks again, Lee-Anne Raymond

      • February 18, 2013 11:34 AM

        It seems that RC has had a run-in with the Bennetts Lane Jazz club due to starting up another Jazz venue nearby. This kind of trollish behaviour if it continues may eventuate in a popular swing against RC. Who knows …
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vexatious_litigation

        The arts have always been a soft target.

        A couple of decades or more ago I and a bunch of like-minded artists and other practitioners got together in Sydney to start up the Art Workers Union which I think has ceased to exist some while ago. One of the offshoots of that org was the Arts Law org. While I was with the group we had a visit from the UK Arts Law org and heard some funny stories about how they won a certain case involving the Royal Family Trust due to the trust’s misuse of a crest designed for a certain Royal celebration.
        The crest had only been designed and licensed for huge decorative arches but started to turn up on coffee mugs, stationary etc.
        In court the judge said, well can you point out any distinguishing features that will convince me that this crest is unique.
        The plaintiffs replied, the unicorn has an erect penis your honour.
        They were awarded a six figure sum and went out a bought a case of champagne.

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