Esther Rockett legal defence mid 2017 updatePosted: June 24, 2017
16 July: *No Qld decision yet *New additions to legal team *Serge in resistance *Funding update
24 June update: *Brisbane hearing 23 June – Raphael & Karam v Rockett
*Cases background *Legal defence before & after special
16 July update – new members of my legal team – Brisbane
We don’t have a ruling yet for the 23 June hearing described below, but I can at least update on a few items.
My legal team has two new members in Brisbane, which is great news. A Brisbane QC has accepted the brief with his junior colleague. I don’t think it’s necessary to name the QC yet. However, he is very experienced across many areas of law, including defamation. He has defended big media companies in defamation claims and is currently defending the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Malcolm Turnbull in a defamation claim brought by a former politician.
He’s obviously very highly regarded. His colleague is also very accomplished, and from her CV she appears to have considerable talent, having acted in very significant cases.
Again, they are assisting under the understanding I have no money to pay them. None of my lawyers are working for free. They are working under agreements to defer billing me until the end of proceedings. If my defences succeed and I am awarded costs, the plaintiffs will be ordered to pay.
Thank you a ton to the LawRight scheme in Brisbane! The staff there worked very hard to find this help for us.
I still don’t have a solicitor, and that is understandable because of the amount of work these defences involve. I’m currently doing the work of a solicitor and paralegal on two very large defamation claims, full time, without the facilities of a law office, and with no other income.
Please appreciate this very unique, incredible opportunity. This is our chance to have Universal Medicine in all its dubious Glory scrutinized with the incomparable rigour of the judicial process. We have the very best legal representation money can buy not billing me. Their experience encompasses defamation law, criminal law, commercial law, public inquiries and children’s law. We simply cannot afford to lose this opportunity. We have one shot. If I don’t fight, my publications will be taken down, all my investigative findings will be gone, and they will get injunctions preventing me from publishing about UM ever again. UM will infiltrate, proliferate, grow more wealthy. Who will stand up to them then?
One more very high profile Sydney based QC has also taken an interest in my defences, and Mr Richardson is still on my Sydney team if we need their help. It’s very unusual for a defendant to have two Silks, a third if needed, and now two very accomplished women barristers on their legal team. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Serge in resistance to discovery of documents
As part of proceedings the parties are ordered by the court to ‘give discovery’ of all documents relevant to facts in issue. That means we have to provide copies, or provide originals for inspection and allow the other party to make copies. Four months since we were ordered to give discovery by 21 April, no documents have yet been exchanged. I was delayed five weeks by shenanigans in the Qld proceedings, and served my list of discovered documents, and my 65 pages of answers to interrogatory questions on 31 May.
So what’s Serge’s excuse?
For some reason Benhayon managed to argue to allow him to give discovery in two stages. He served me with a list on 21 April but it had so many deficiencies I had to send a lengthy letter with listing all its omissions, and there are a lot. Those omissions are nowhere near being adequately addressed. I’ve asked him to give over the first lot of documents, but it looks as though this may take weeks or months of letters for me to compel him to comply with the court’s orders. If he doesn’t, I will apply to the court for a remedy. I won’t go into all of the omissions yet. We are not allowed to use any of the documents given in discovery for any reason other than use in the proceedings, but there’s nothing to stop me from publishing the excuses I’m getting from Benhayon’s solicitor, Paula Fletcher.
Like the two (of many) examples below. Benhayon’s healing claims and his integrity are in question in the proceedings. I have asked for all the training manuals and course materials for UM’s ‘esoteric healing’ training. The response:
Weasel words won’t stand up in court. There’s plenty more Esoteric nonsense where that came from. The revoking of the College DGR by the ATO will be examined in court. The response to giving discovery of documents discussing that:
There are more significant omissions. I’ll give Benhayon another chance to address them before I publish those excuses. For now suffice to say it’s not usual for a plaintiff to be so resistant to giving discovery. The risk he takes is that I will acquire the documents or other materials relevant to the issues from alternative sources, such as via subpoena. Either way, the failure to provide documents will certainly come to the notice of the court, and the damage to his credibility, which is already under serious question, will very severely undermine his claim.
Mention of subpoenas brings me to funding.
We are in the very fortunate position that I have an excellent team of barristers helping us. Even if I had a solicitor, I would still be doing a huge amount of work, as I am the one who is across the issues and the evidence. I have no income. I’m not eligible for benefits and I don’t want grief from Centrelink while I’m working in excess of full time progressing these defences. Lawyers’ fees are no longer part of the budget. That is a massive bonus. The budget now is to help me with my living expenses while I’m not bringing in income, which is difficult when I’m playing amateur solicitor/paralegal. The other expense is ‘disbursements’ – extra expenses of running litigation – fees for subpoenas, document searches, IT, stationery, copying, petrol, postage etc.
I need funds to keep this on the rails. I’m trying to get some income again ASAP, but until then please help me make sure I’m not made homeless and this opportunity is not lost.
A one off donation helps. If a bunch of you consider a weekly or monthly payment to help me cover my bills that would help me enormously.
A lot of people have complained to me about UM over the past five years. I’ve heard extremely disturbing accounts from informants that will never be made public because they fear the retaliation I’ve copped. Most of those who’ve contacted me to complain have not made a donation, and that’s not fair to the people who have continued to support this or the people silenced by UM’s thuggishness. The more of you that help, the easier it is for everyone. Please help lighten the load. It is an opportunity for all of you to do something very valuable in the public interest. UM is causing suffering and they’ve gotten away with it for years. That will only get worse. We have the team to tackle it. This is our chance.
Please donate to my survival fund!
Bank transfers to Westpac BSB 734063 Acc. No. 654143
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24 June – on yesterday’s hearing in Brisbane
In brief, yesterday’s argument was somewhat abbreviated. Her Honour refused to hear over half of what Ray and Caroline brought to hearing yesterday. Her reading of the law is that the Queensland court has no jurisdiction over the majority of their claim. She heard the remainder of the argument and will hand her decision down on that in the next week or so, I would think. I will provide a more comprehensive update once we have Her Honour’s ruling.
What was the 23 June hearing?
On 13 June Caroline Raphael and Ray Karam filed six applications to be heard yesterday. By yesterday, after a fair bit of to and fro correspondence, we had agreed to narrow the arguments to two applications. The first was an application to strike out a large amount of my contextual truth defence. A bunch of you will remember we successfully defended a similar challenge in the Benhayon case last year.
Section 26 of the Defamation act says:
It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that:
(a) the matter carried, in addition to the defamatory imputations of which the plaintiff complains, one or more other imputations (“contextual imputations” ) that are substantially true, and
(b) the defamatory imputations do not further harm the reputation of the plaintiff because of the substantial truth of the contextual imputations.
Imputation = meaning.
I pleaded about 50 contextual imputations and they contested all of them. I conceded a few. They conceded a few and in the end I think they argued about thirty of them.
The second application was for an order for costs. Basically Team UM wants me to pay for all their carrying on and the cost of the court appearance etc. I might end up having some costs awarded against me (probably not a lot) because I was a bit late in replying to Paula Fletcher’s most recent barrage of demands, and also because I may have misunderstood a rule about delivering some documents for ‘inspection’. Unfortunately it’s a pitfall of not having a solicitor, but having said that, I have no funds to pay costs, so it won’t make much difference.
Her Honour stated from the outset of the hearing that she had ‘read everything’ and never walks into court unprepared. She then said she would only hear the argument related to the publications for which she had jurisdiction, which was the contextual argument for the six tweets the plaintiffs complain of, and costs. The claimed defamatory meanings for the tweets constitute less than half of their case. The major portion of their case relates to an email I sent which the plaintiffs allege was read by Ballina Mayor David Wright, who is a friend of Ray Karam. Seeing the email was wholly published in the state of NSW Australia, the District Court of the state of Queensland has no jurisdiction over that publication. ‘Wholly published’ in NSW means I published it from where I live in NSW to people in NSW about people who live in NSW. The judge cited Section 11(1) of the Defamation Act.
Team UM’s in house barrister, Charles Wilson, was not impressed and attempted to argue the point about jurisdiction, but Her Honour refused to hear his argument. Instead the court got stuck into the remainder of the contextual truth argument, and then the costs argument. We were listed for a full day but were done in under two hours, and my barrister, Louise Goodchild, who rocks (really) jumped on an earlier flight back to Sydney.
One of our friends on Facebook expressed some confusion about jurisdiction. Yes, it’s confusing. Her Honour drew upon an article of law we had not considered in our February argument. We are grateful.
The development is certainly an obstacle for Ray and Caroline’s claim, and I will keep you updated on any further developments.
There is more happening on another couple of fronts, and I will update on those soon.
Background of claims
Benhayon v Rockett
November 2015, Benhayon filed his claim in NSW Supreme Court Sydney for ‘aggravated damages’ for a blog post I wrote November 2014, three comments I made on that blog and one tweet.
Benhayon’s legal team consists of his in house solicitors, Universal Law of Mullumbimby, with a respected Sydney Senior Counsel (SC). Last year Benhayon applied to have my contextual truth defence struck out. After an argument at hearing in May by Mr Matthew Richardson, his application was refused. Read the decision on the NSW Caselaw site.
September 2016 Benhayon escalated the claim, tripling its size. Mr Tom Molomby SC joined my legal team and we filed a full, 95 page defence at the end of November.
Raphael and Karam v Rockett claim background
On 22 December 2016, two close associates of Serge Benhayon filed a defamation claim against me in Queensland District Court, Brisbane. Caroline Raphael is a psychologist who works with Benhayon at Universal Medicine’s Goonellabah headquarters. Ray Karam is a small business owner who describes Benhayon as a ‘brother’ and ‘best friend’. Karam ran for a seat on Ballina Shire Council and for Mayor of Ballina last year.
Ray and Caroline are suing me for an email read by Karam’s friend, David Wright, Mayor of Ballina, plus six tweets. They are represented by Universal Law solicitors and UM’s in house barrister and College of UM charity director Charles Wilson.
I filed a 157 page full defence on 24 March.
I am representing in person (without a solicitor) in both states. I have exhausted all my funds in defending the Benhayon proceedings so far. I am, however, represented by very high calibre counsel, Mr Tom Molomby SC and Ms Louise Goodchild. They are working on a conditional fees agreement. They know I have no funds and no assets. They will charge their fees at the end of proceedings, but they are working under the understanding that if I am not awarded costs I won’t be able to pay.
Some other barristers have also shown interest and are willing to pitch in if needed on the same or similar terms.
I’m determined to get my defences a fair hearing, and so is Mr Molomby SC and associates. We want these defences to go to trial so that UM’s conduct finally gets the scrutiny it deserves. We will fight all the way.
I’m no longer paying legal fees but I’m working full time on my defence with no income. I need public support to keep me alive, fed and with a roof over my head while I continue this fight.
Universal Medicine before and after legal defence special
Before: Charles Wilson April 2015
After: Charles Wilson June 2017
Crash course in UM:
Our Mission – a summary of UM, issues of concern and regulatory actions so far
Contact me if you have questions or tip offs.