The famous view from Parliament Hill: St Paul’s and …The Shard.
Archive for December, 2013
Over 6 years ago I wrote in Mob Justice about Ray Hadley’s hounding of Mr and Mrs Ahmed, proprietors of a fish-and-chip shop at Carlingford Court. Mr Ahmed had been convicted of sexually molesting a teenage female employee. Mr Hadley was not satisfied with the sentence handed out, let alone that the man was appealing his conviction. Hadley took it upon himself to drive the couple out of Carlingford Court, that is, to hound them out of business.
At the time, the couple successfully staved off an eviction notice from the landlords. However, Mr Hadley’s campaign continued. It took in Mrs Ahmed as well as Mr Ahmed. The shop ultimately closed down in October 2008.
Maybe, just maybe, there is still some justice in the world. It took a while, but yesterday a jury found that Mr Hadley had defamed Mrs Ahmed. It is now up to Justice Nicholas, one time doyen of the Sydney defo bar,* to determine the damages payable – not, it seems, despite suggestions in the press to that effect, by Mr Hadley himself, but by his employer, Harbour Radio.
Sometimes defamation can seem a bit of a “poncey tort” – as a colleague of mine likes to call it, where no real loss has been sustained by the plaintiff. Cases get taken on by lawyers on a contingency basis and after a while it is the costs tail which is wagging the vindication dog. Such cases can give contingency basis lawyering a bad name.
In this case Mrs Ahmed suffered a real financial loss as a result of the campaign led by Mr Hadley on his employer’s radio station. It is unlikely that she has been able to bring the case unless her lawyers were prepared to act on a contingency basis. This case strikes me as a good rather than a bad advertisement for contingency fees.
For Harbour Radio, defending the claim is just a business cost. It has been a long and hard-fought case.
The report in the Fairfax press says “Fairfax Media understands Hadley is considering an appeal.” He would, wouldn’t he – even if, as Hadley is not a party, that can’t quite be right.
*Apart that is, from Clive Evatt, counsel for Mrs Ahmed, who was rather amusingly (for the cognoscenti) identified as “Clive Evatt QC” in one early report of the trial, subsequently revised to retract the postnominal.
Mr Hadley and Harbourside have had a partially (but significantly) successful appeal: Harbour Radio Pty Ltd v Ahmed  NSWCA 290
This was heard on 24 November 2014 with judgment handed down on 24 September 2015. Unclear why it should take three judges so long to make up their minds.