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Benhayon v Rockett defamation defence updates September 2016

Lady-justice-trois-coleurs

September 28: Please be patient   

September 4: Sep 2nd directions hearing orders

August 31: Judgment – Benhayon’s application to have the contextual truth defence struck out DISMISSED. *Recap since May. *Documents and links

September 28: Developments

There have been some developments in the case – a very interesting mixed bag, but I’m awaiting some clarification on several issues. I’d like to get everything clear before I share, I’m not sure how long that might take, so please be patient.

In the meantime, the blogs are now closed to comments. Thank the New Era of Esoteric free speech & ‘One Unified Truth’.

Feel free to whinge over on the Rick Ross Forum, or Richard’s blog.

Benhayon’s May 6 application to strike out my contextual truth defence dismissed

Thank you all for your patience and support, the court ruled in my favour for the second listed hearing on May 6.

Benhayon made an application to the court to have a substantial defence – one of five I’ll be taking to trial – struck out. His application was dismissed, which means I will be taking a full defence to court.

You can read the full judgment at this link: https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/57c4fb60e4b058596cb9ef63

See the August 31 entry below for more info on the defence – both the contextual truth defence and the defence as a whole.

Also stand by for some promising updates regarding the future of the defence in general. There are negotiations underway among my high level supporters. I may make a blog update and a video talking about the big picture when there’s more certainty on those developments. The outlook is very good.

September 2nd directions hearing, trial date (?) and court orders

We don’t expect a trial to take place until next year, and we may not have a trial date until we complete a bunch of procedural (pre-trial housekeeping) steps. Those will occur incrementally. I will continue to update on the procedurals, but it’s unlikely anything sensational will happen in working through the pre-trial paperwork.

Friday’s directions hearing wasn’t eventful. The court made the following orders.

1. The Plaintiff pay the Defendant’s Costs of the Plaintiff’s application to have the defence of contextual truth struck out.
2. The Plaintiff to serve any Further Amended Statement of Claim adding any contextual imputations, and any evidence in support of an application to adopt contextual imputations, by 4pm 9 September 2016.
3. The matter be re-listed on 16 September 2016.

The ‘application to adopt contextual imputations’ is open to Benhayon. It’s likely he may adopt some of my contextual imputations as part of his claim for damages. That won’t impact my defence. It just means I will plead ‘Justification (Truth)’ to them, seeing I have truckloads of admissable evidence as proof.

An order to pay my costs is always welcome, however costs are not recovered until the conclusion of proceedings.

August 31: The May hearing – keeping the contextual truth defence

In May, Benhayon tried to have the contextual truth defence struck out. Benhayon’s claim is that I’m liable for damage to his reputation for statements I made in a blog I wrote about his hands on healing practices and conduct with women and children. One of my defences, the defence of contextual truth, is that he’s claiming defamatory imputations (meanings) out of context to a broader range of statements I made in the same publication about a bigger picture of his dishonest, delusional and exploitative behaviours. The defence allows me to nominate those contextual imputations and to argue that because they are substantially true – and I have admissable evidence of his dishonest, delusional, exploitative etc. behaviour – his reputation was not further damaged, and I can’t be held liable.

My team successfully argued against Benhayon’s submission, and his application was dismissed.

The contextual imputations I will take to trial are:
  1. The plaintiff engages in misleading conduct in promoting the healing services offered by Universal Medicine.
  2. The plaintiff knowingly makes false claims about healing that cause harm to others.
  3. The plaintiff is delusional.
  4. The plaintiff as the leader of Universal Medicine exploits the followers of that group through his false and harmful teachings.
  5. The plaintiff is dishonest.
  6. The plaintiff is the leader of Universal Medicine, a group which to his knowledge preys on cancer patients.
  7. The plaintiff engages in inappropriate touching of women.

The defence as a whole – five legal defences

Only one defence needs to succeed for each matter he’s suing me for (a blog post, two blog comments on the same page, and a tweet). I’m using five legal defences:

  1. Justification (truth) for a couple of claimed imputations. (I can’t plead truth to things I didn’t say or mean.)
  2. Contextual truth – statements in the matters complained of that may be found to be defamatory, but which Benhayon is not suing me for, are substantially true, therefore his reputation was not further harmed.
  3. Qualified Privilege – my readers had an interest in my replies to Universal Medicine’s attacks on me and I have reasonable grounds for making the statements I made, based on my experience, background and research etc.
  4. Honest opinion – my views were honest opinions based on proper material and related to matters of public interest.
  5. Fair comment – my comments were based on true facts and proper material and related to matters of public interest.

Proceedings at trial

I’ve served an application for trial by jury and we’re awaiting the decision on that. For now, we’ll assume that will be approved.

In order to be found liable for damages to Benhayon’s reputation, the jury will need to determine the following for each matter complained of and each imputation. The benchmark is that it would need to be found to be so by an ‘ordinary, reasonable reader’. (See below)

  1. Whether the meaning of each imputation is capable of being carried by what I wrote in the publication.
  2. Whether the meaning is, as a matter of fact, carried.
  3. Whether the meaning is capable of being defamatory of the plaintiff.
  4. Whether the meaning is, as a matter of fact, defamatory of the plaintiff.
  5. If the meanings are in fact carried, and are found to be in fact defamatory, the jury will decide if any of the above defences apply.
  6. If there are any other factors which would mitigate damages if any of the meanings are found to be carried, and are found to be defamatory, and if the plaintiff suffered damages as a result. For example, in Benhayon’s case, the fact he himself published the sense and substance of the matters complained of on his own websites may lessen any damages. Benhayon’s sites attributed certain accusations to me I have never made, and have never been made on my sites by commenters or in anything I’ve published or written. 

The jury makes all of the above determinations after hearing all the evidence. In other words, they decide all of that at the end of the trial. If I’m not granted a jury trial, it will be heard and decided by a judge alone.

Defamation tests

I’ve pulled these out of some much longer paragraphs in the defamation act to give readers an idea of how the court will determine what is in fact defamatory.

  1. The ordinary reasonable meaning of the matter complained of may be either the literal meaning of the published matter, or what is inferred from it; in deciding whether any particular imputation is capable of being conveyed, the question is whether it is reasonably so capable; accordingly, any strained or forced or utterly unreasonable interpretation must be rejected.
  2. The ordinary reasonable reader is a person of fair average intelligence who is neither perverse, morbid, suspicious of mind nor avid for scandal. However, that person does not live in an ivory tower but can and does read between the lines in the light of that person’s general knowledge and experience of worldly affairs.

Supporter participation

I want to thank all of you who have supported my defence – with donations, loans and well wishes. Every bit of it helps! More donations will certainly help seeing the defence so far has been a very considerable expense. We’re more or less running to the expected budget. I have some more updates regarding support for the defence, and I’ll make those, plus an explanatory video running through the whole mess some time in the next week.

You can also do me a favour by taking care with your social media comments on the case. There is no issue with mouthing off or venting about Serge and UniMed’s nonsense, however I’d like to ask you all to take care with any comments about the court proceedings, judge or judgments.

The judgment that was brought down was what my team expected, it was the judgment we hoped for, and we are confident of cleaning up this case – comprehensively. I wouldn’t have blogged a word or defended this case if I didn’t think I was legally able to do so. However, I won’t second guess or speculate on what the judge or jury says or thinks. I’d like to ask for your co-operation, and ask that you don’t get too carried away speculating on the proceedings, and please limit any discussions about the judge and the legal counsel. They’re good people, excellent professionals and we need to have confidence, show them respect and let them do their jobs.

Since May

It was a bit of a wait since May for this judgment, but lots has happened – some of which will make its way into my defence.

Documents & links

LINKS TO DOCUMENTS – Further AMENDED STATEMENT OF CLAIM – May 2016

The blog & comments I’m being sued for: Universal Medicine’s sexual abuse apologism hits a crescendo

See also: Benhayon vs Rockett – help fund my legal defence – background

Watch this page, Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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20 Comments on “Benhayon v Rockett defamation defence updates September 2016”

  1. Esther says:

    Unfortunately there was some confusion in the week or so leading up to the May hearing, and I wasn’t sure if there was going to be an actual argument on the 6th, so I didn’t encourage anyone to come along. It’s a pity, because it was worth being there for. The argument lasted 90 minutes-ish. Serge was there with Miranda, Alison Greig and Charles Wilson. Luckily, a good friend was sitting behind me watching Serge & co. She said they looked pretty unhappy and very worried as the argument progressed. None of them would look at me in court or on the way out. Alison ended up sitting two seats away at first and I smiled at her, but she couldn’t look me in the face. She looked terrified and so did Miranda.

    That gives me no satisfaction. It’s sad. All I’ve done is expose the truth and raise important concerns about the welfare of the vulnerable. I will see this through, all the way, and the long game is legislative change – better consumer, child and patient protections. Miranda and Alison should not be frightened of that.

    Very sad indeed.

    • W. Harper says:

      They should look scared, and I have no pity for any of them. Have any of the upper rung ever showed a moments remorse for the families they have destroyed, the children whose lives are forever changed now?

      They have not and I eternally grateful for you, Esther, for fighting this fight.

      • Not Just Bangalow Pub says:

        No they haven’t. They rejoice. Each broken family is proof that Serge is a man of integrity. It’s the unseen damage of UM. Across Australia there are scores of families rent apart. Former lovers and now in court fighting over kids. People that cared for each other and being accused of being abusive. Kids are left in between. Lawyers like Paula Fletcher benefit from family disputes. Serge stands by and encourages them by telling them they will be more glorious. It puts him centre stage as the man in their life, and if they have kids leaves them exposed to recruitment or worse with the detractor out of the way. Serge has no qualms about any of this. He knows its happened.. he encourages it. His ex wife and the inner members condone it by doing nothing or by assisting him. His own family are a bunch of downtrodden sods simpering around their father unable to get on with their own lives in the real world. Going out doing what dad tells them or manipulates them into. Serges current wife looks sad and alone but all the members think she is amazing because Serge tells them she is. Some stupid members buy Serge flowers because he talks to them on the phone. They feel blessed to have the attention of a madman.

        Excellent work Esther. We know it must be stressful. Everyone in the community of Byron Bay Lismore Ballina and beyond support you in finally bringing this guy to account. We cant wait to see him explaining himself to the real world. We also hope that his real background before the cult is fully exposed and the press report on it.

    • Sanity says:

      What can I say, but… thankyou Esther
      You put yourself on the firing line to achieve justice for so many and stop future hurt
      I have witnessed the destruction caused by SB for well over 20 years now
      Its ugly and so wrong on so many counts
      As a chess game his move to sue and silence you backfired big time
      He is a little pawn on the run and you are full strength heading for checkmate with the support of the law
      And as for the followers of Serge, there are 2 distinct groups, the vulnerables and the shonksters hoping to sub contract benefit from his giant scam UM.
      Shame on all of you of sound mind for not exposing and rejecting SB and UM for yourselves and clear your own conscience
      Anyway, the law and press will do it for you and if you dont accept the truth then there is no hope for you

  2. Lance says:

    Well done!

    I guess it was the outcome we anticipated at this point given that the group have done a lot more to damage their own reputation – as it is- with their attack blogs and plethora of WordPress sites paying homage to the incomprehensible utterances of Serge.

    So far the group have managed to reframe any new information or shift in Serge’s stories into attacks on those that brought it to their attention, so my guess is this will be the legal systems fault.

    It will be interesting to see how deep Serge’s delusion is and whether he thinks he has a snowflakes chance in hell of getting the result he desires. There’s only one sure outcome from the proceedings – a lot of attention on him and the group and mountains of new information in the public arena.

    It’s hard to gauge what they are thinking. I believe they took the article in the Echo yesterday as pro-UM so it’s possible they will take this as a win for Serge. (At least Hans Lovejoy won’t experience an esoteric love bombing of the press council that every other journalist has had to endure so far)

    I’m pretty sure none of the group picked out Serge’s glaring lie about their being no documented proof of him saying he was the reincarnation of Leonardo. Given they’ve watched him shift position on that (and on religion, capitalism, charity, marriage, exercise…) no doubt they’ve been able to expunge their collective memories of him making that exact claim on national television in 2012.

    I’ve acclimatized to the groups behaviour and bizarre logic over the last four years, but I still struggle with how they all get fed shit and eat it up happily every day while still wearing stupid grins and fancy scarves.

    No doubt that’s what you’ll see in row 3 in the court in 2017 as Serge tries to bamboozle the judge and jurors with circular reasoning and confabulations galore.

  3. davross says:

    Truth and justice will prevail. Good old natural law of cause and effect. Go Esther.

  4. MacReady says:

    Looks like Serge “I know all the mysteries of the universe and will debate anyone on Earth” Benhayon’s New Era just got demoted a few levels down the initiation scale. I don’t know how this could have happened! Divine ‘cosmic laws’ being laughed out of a courtroom run by the pranic astral cult? Why wasn’t Serge crying victorious tears of joy knowing that the Hierarchy were there in the room overseeing this historic moment in Fiery history? Have the Four Lords Of Form gained the upper hand? Find out in the next exciting episode of My Cult Rules!

    • Esther Rockett says:

      Top comment, thank you. And thank you all for your great comments and encouragement. I’ve had heaps of wonderful emails etc. The judgment was very welcome news to so many folks.

      Directions hearing was held today. It wasn’t eventful, and I’m not completely clear on the next steps yet, but these were the court’s orders. I will update the post above when I have a bit more info. I would say it will be some time before we have a trial date, and there will be numerous procedural steps (pre-trial housekeeping) like this in the interim.

      1. The Plaintiff pay the Defendant’s Costs of the Plaintiff’s application to have the defence of contextual truth struck out.
      2. The Plaintiff to serve any Further Amended Statement of Claim adding any contextual imputations, and any evidence in support of an application to adopt contextual imputations, by 4pm 9 September 2016.
      3. The matter be re-listed on 16 September 2016.

      The ‘application to adopt contextual imputations’ is open to Benhayon if he decides he wants to sue me for defamation for those, but the problem with that for him is the contextual imputations are susceptible to the Truth defence with truckloads of admissable evidence as proof.

      • W. Harper says:

        Glad to see you awarded costs for the application to have the contextual truth defence thrown out.

    • Tick tock tick tock says:

      Yes Serge has really botched it up here on earth and should soon be recalled back to Shambalah to face the music.
      Its not too late for his adult children to really grow up, pack up the mirrors,give the money back, make their own way in life and shake off the abusive control shackles.
      And poor Miranda, half of her life stolen, possessed and controlled, can be free. Its not too late for her to discover real love,have a family of her own and reconnect with her own real family.
      The vulnerable members can regain their identity and confidence.
      To the followers who are sucking in the benefits, the rip off party is almost over. You know who you are you toxic scrub ticks.
      How amazing if this whole UM thing is stopped and disolved all the hurt done can begin a healing process.

  5. Roslyn Ann Hodgkins says:

    Esther you are amazing, to have put your time expertise and energy in to see justice and stand firm for those who have been taken in by the coercive manipulation & exploitative psychological abuse of this group is truly to be admired.
    I am plugging all the way for you to win,.Changes to the system that allows not only Universal Medicine but the many many hundreds of other cults to exploit and control members lives without accountability will benefit. So glad the court has ruled in your favour.to have the contextual truth defence remain..

    • Esther says:

      Thank you so much for your support, Ros. Yes, I’m looking into the broader implications of a win, and the ensuing trial judgment. A Supreme Court judgment on UM and Benhayon’s integrity will be a very powerful document indeed. I’ll be talking more about this soon.

      Thanks again to all for your support and encouragement.

      Yes, commenter tick tock, above, the sooner this is all laid out in court, the sooner the harm can stop. I can’t see a trial taking place until late next year, but I will keep exposing UM’s harm as long as I’m able. You’re right, it’s not too late for UMers to cut their losses and make a fresh start. Many still see me as the enemy, but there is a lot of support from me and lots of others if they want out.

  6. Mona Lisa Vs Moaning Loser says:

    Are they one and the same Universal genius with a superhuman mind, or does the similarity end with both christian names ending in an “o”?
    Lets ponder……
    Leonardo was the master of invention for example, conceptualised flying machines.
    Sergio invented conceptualised flight from fictitious planets, Shamballa and Sirius healing symbols and raping entities
    Hmmmmmm
    Leonardo was architect for the Milan Cathedral, a monument for worship.
    Sergio commissioned two large halls in his name for self worship using money for false promise from followers and a private mansion from interference with an unrelated estate pre and post death
    Hmmmmmm
    Leonardo’s notebooks were unpublished and kept private with many believing he intentionally censored his work from those who might irresponsibly use it (eg invention of the war tank)
    Sergio irresponsibly published uncensored plagiarised books that dont make any sense
    Hmmmmmm
    Leonardo discovered paleontology and evolutionary geology linking fossels to evolution
    Sergio drives a tractor, digs up clay dirt and calls it magic and says we do not descend from apes
    Hmmmmmm
    Leonardo mapped the stars studying astronomy
    Sergio invented new planets and astral planes
    Hmmmmmm
    Last but not least, anatomy
    Leonardo started indepth studies on the human body,life and death, how it worked and functioned and he recorded these with indepth anatomical drawings and dissections of corpses.
    Sergio puts his hands on others anatomy, targeting crotch, backside and breast areas on women, takes photos then denies it and has a facination with death and any opportunistic connection he can achieve with estates.
    “o” well, comparison study over I guess

    • Esther says:

      sorry, took the liberty of changing two words of your post. Long story about legal stuff – clear as day to sane people but unfortunately the subject of a legal claim from Leonardo Da Deluded Bullshitter.

      Great observations, though. Thank you.

      • Mona Lisa Vs Moaning Loser says:

        “o”k with me🙊

        • Optimus Prime says:

          Sergio also does not believe in evolution, fossils are… err, not sure what he thinks those huge skeletons dug up from the ground are, but apparently we all flew over from some other planet to inhabit the earth. Why did we do this? Why did we leave this other life supporting planet that would be quite good to know about right now with global warming etc… you’ll have to ask him, apparently he’s the only one that knows. And where the spaceships are that brought us over, again, ask Sergio. Maybe they are in The Lighthouse or another of the many buildings he owns? Maybe they are disguised as 2 seater sports cars that UM upper echelon members favour, sort of like the Transformers?

          That’s easily as believable as any of the rest of the horse dung he serves up as gospel.

          Leonardo, Sergio in disguise. (Sung to the theme of the Transformers cartoon).

  7. Anonymous says:

    How does one recover monies wasted on pointless courses as a concerned family member of a cult member, on their behalf?
    Especially when concerned family member was financially supporting cult member.
    So in reality it is concerned family members money that needs recovering
    Serve can I have my money back please?

    • Esther says:

      I’m not a lawyer but if you have the receipts and can prove you made the payments or it was your money, you could ask his nibs for a refund. He’s likely to refuse. Then you could report him to Fair Trading, and perhaps try to make a small claim in court.

      Or hold off for a while, and hold onto any evidence you have – receipts, evidence of payment etc.until the completion of my case. Maybe jot down dates, notes, of what happened, conversations etc. A trial is very likely indeed to find he’s a dishonest, delusional, anti-social exploitative predator making false claims about healing that cause harm, for his own profit – that will come down as a Supreme Court judgment, and my understanding at the moment is that such a finding leaves him wide open to litigation – damages claims etc. Plus regulatory action. At which point you might have to get in fast, or join a class action.

    • Lance says:

      That’s been a common complaint from partners of members. However the OFT won’t act unless the actual person who consumed the course makes a complaint. I complained about sham accreditation courses for ‘chakra puncture’ (hastily renamed from esoteric acupuncture once all practitioners needed to be registered in July 2012) with no traction, because as the OFT officers told me- even though I may have indirectly (or directly) paid for it- I wasn’t the actual customer.

      At that time scores if not hundreds of the ‘students’ were paying for this course and doing hours to get the so- called accreditation. That involved unsupervised needling of family members. It was such an obvious con that even in house cult acupuncturist Neil Ringer told me it was ridiculous (as almost all would not be able to make use of it commercially)

      Like Serge being the reincarnation of Leonardo – an article of faith pre 2012- that debacle has long been forgotten. The forever students have removed their pretend accreditation from the walls and put their needles away and moved onto the next ‘course’. I think it was esoteric numerology…. That money long down the gurgler and into Serge’s pocket.

      OFT and ACCC are weak as piss. They won’t touch anything unless they have a barrage of complaints from the actual consumer. Students are not likely to complain as they are too far gone. Ex members are too angry and understandably scared of the lynch mob. That includes Ray and Gail FYI.

      Ergo, chances of getting money back is zero. Chances of regulatory action is less than zero. You could try asking Serge, but he’s likely to give you an esoteric telling off. Because you need to hear the ‘truth’.

      • W. Harper says:

        Defiantly worth collating all financial information you have on a partners or ex partners expenses. There will come a time a class action law suit could become viable. As I am UK based that’s where I am researching this, but I am sure that will be beneficial for AU as well. Can’t say too much right now, and it may take some time, but in the long game I am opimitic if the the deformation trial goes in the direction many of us suspect it will, the flood gates will be opened to a ton of other legal challenges.

        Watch this space!