Green MP loses $1m defamation case

A long-running legal battle with developer Jerry Bennette has left local Greens MP Ian Cohen more than $1 million out-of-pocket.

The High Court of Australia last week rejected his application to appeal a decision of the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal in relation to a defamation action involving Mr Bennette.

“I am disappointed with the High Court’s decision and feel that the decision has put a very high price on sticking up for your mates and your community,” he said.

“As a result of the court decision I am now facing costs of approximately $1.015 million.”

Earlier this year Mr Cohen was ordered by the NSW Appeal Court to pay $15,000 in defamation damages after Mr Bennette successfully overturned an earlier decision by the Supreme Court ruling in Mr Cohen’s favour.

Mr Bennette had sued Mr Cohen over comments he made during public meetings at Suffolk Park in 2001.

Previous court cases had heard that Mr Cohen defamed Mr Bennette by saying he was a thug and a bully.

“If someone wishes to speak their mind in this state then they had better have a million dollars up their sleeve, before they even start counting their own legal costs,” Mr Cohen said.

“The result of my case shows that community activism comes at a high price.”

Mr Bennette said he was very pleased the proceedings had finally concluded.

“These proceedings were never about money,” he said.“I brought these proceedings to stop what I regarded as a campaign conducted by Mr Cohen to destroy my reputation and business.”

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