Sarah Hanson-Young has followed through on her threat to sue fellow crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm for defamation after he refused to apologise for comments he made about Hanson-Young’s sex life.
Federal Court defamation proceedings were filed on behalf of Hanson-Young on Wednesday against the NSW Liberal Democrat over several comments he made on radio and TV, as well as on Facebook, in late June and early July.
The include Sky News, 3AW and ABC TV’s 7.30.
Hanson-Young gave Leyonhjelm seven days to apologise for the comments but he refused.
“The defamatory statements Senator Leyonhjelm made and continues to make are an attack on my character, and have done considerable harm to me and my family,” Senator Hanson-Young said in a statement today.
“I’m calling this out because it is wrong. No woman, whether she be working behind a bar, in an office or in the Parliament, deserves to be treated this way, and it needs to stop.”
“It was always my preference that Senator Leyonhjelm apologise and acknowledge how hurtful, defamatory and damaging his comments were, however he refuses to do so.”
Senator Leyonhjelm, who is currently overseas, issued a statement saying his lawyers received the statement of claim on August 1.
“I have received advice that her claims are without merit. I will be defending these claims strenuously in the Federal Court and will be seeking costs accordingly,” he said.
A crowd-funding campaign set up for Hanson-Young is funding her legal action with Sydney-based Kennedys lawyers.
Her case is based around three defamatory imputations allegedly made by Leyonhjelm during his media appearance:
1. That she is a hypocrite who claimed that all men are rapists but nevertheless had sexual relations with them;
2. That during the course of a Parliamentary debate, she made the absurd claim that all men are rapists.
3. That Hanson-Young is a misandrist, in that she publicly claimed that all men are rapists.
Her statement of claim is seeking aggravated damages, alleging that Leyonhjelm’s comments amounted to malicious conduct based on his hatred of her.
The case would require a judge to accept the claimed imputations and then assess any potential damages.
Hanson-Young said that if she received a payout, she would donate it to charity.
“While the Federal Court cannot compel Senator Leyonhjelm to apologise, it does have the power to award damages in my favour which I pledge to donate to two very worth organisations – Plan International and the Working Women’s Centre SA,” she said.
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