Esther Rockett legal defence October 2017 updatesPosted: October 14, 2017
14 October 2017 *The short and the long *Raphael & Karam v Rockett September interlocutory hearing update
*Benhayon v Rockett discovery orders – Serge in resistance part II
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The short of it
In summary, Raphael & Karam v Rockett had a three hour interlocutory hearing on 20 September in Brisbane. Basically my defence came through six months of Esoteric strike out attempts fairly unscathed and with no adverse costs orders. (Not that I could pay them anyway.) The September hearing was the third hearing of an application to strike out my contextual truth defence (one fifth of the whole defence), and Team UM succeeded in getting about a quarter of that one fifth struck out. In other words, they put in months of work to get just about nowhere.
Scroll down for my report of the hearing if you like a bit of gossip and theatre. In short, I now have a QC representing me, but in the three hour hearing he didn’t have a lot to do. I estimate he spoke for about five minutes of that. Charles Wilson was on his feet for most of it, His Honour disagreed with just about everything he said, and in the end Team UM managed to get one of ten subparagraphs struck out. They wanted costs. They got none. That’s what I call a successful defence.
In the NSW claim, Serge is still in resistance. His solicitor continues to argue Team UM’s Esoteric interpretations of the court orders. At length. Serge was supposed to disclose a large number of documents in his possession. Seven months after we received the orders a lot are still outstanding, and on 7 September I received a charming 31 page letter listing a lot of not very loving excuses intermingled with some fairly blunt admissions documents had been left out and altered and assertions they’d made in previous letters were in fact incorrect. More on that below. I disclosed all the documents I was required to and provided 65 pages of answers to interrogatory questions at the end of May – over four months ago. And that was delayed by the overheated litigation in Qld. What’s Serge’s excuse? We’ll be returning to court in Sydney in the near future to get new orders – to clear up those Esoteric interpretations. Work is underway on that.
Yes, I still need help with funds. I no longer have lawyers’ bills, but I do have expenses. I might say, the barristers representing me are pleased with progress. We successfully defended strike out applications, plus a barrage of unreasonable demands in Queensland. Team UM listed seven applications for hearing within 12 weeks of me filing my defence, unrepresented, while I was trying to comply with very extensive pre-existing court orders in NSW. Team UM abandoned four of those applications in the days before the June hearing and got close to nowhere with the remainder. Her Honour acknowledged in her June ruling I had not been given enough time for what was demanded, and even a lawyer would have struggled.
We’re on track to successfully get UM examined in court – Qld, NSW, both states – the courts are the best place for the big bunch of evidence I’ll be taking – with the backing of Queens and Senior Counsel and very able junior barristers on board. Not bad for a ‘criminal’/’troll’ crowdfunding two major defences. But I need your sustained support. This is a once only opportunity to out UM in the best place it can be outed, with the press and public welcome to observe. Please donate!
Clearing up some misconceptions for the light-filled Esoteric love and truthers. Serge is suing me over a blog post I published in November 2014 and about 17 tweets after that. He claims his reputation has been damaged by statements I made in those 18 publications about things he has published or said publicly, his financial dealings and his behaviours with women and children. I am defending my publications by bringing evidence – a lot of it -much of it in the form of documents – that everything I stated is true. I was legally justified in making all the statements I made.
Serge will go on the stand and answer questions about his public statements, his documented financial dealings, and his behaviour with women and kids. He will not be ‘free to speak’ or advocating ‘free speech’ or using the stand as a marketing platform for his ‘philosophy’. He’ll be under examination. Like I will be. I will go on the stand and answer questions about the evidence for what I wrote in those publications, and the reasonable grounds and proper materials I based my statements and opinions on. To be clear, it is not a criminal proceeding. It’s civil claim for damage to personal reputation. I will not be on trial for ‘trolling’ or ‘abuse’, or whether or not I or anyone else ‘gets’ his Esoteric philosophy. I’m not on trial for ‘religious persecution’. The court will look at some pretty mundane facts. As much as UM likes to throw around accusations of ‘malice’ – malice can only be proven if the court finds I had no reasonable grounds to make the statements I made, or proper materials (documents, recordings, images, first hand experiences) to base them on. To prove malice, they would need to prove I knowingly lied – about the bleeding obvious – about material facts that are as plain as day to anyone not invested in UM.
Defamation law seeks to strike a balance between protecting reputation and protecting freedom of speech. The law allows us to expose facts and to comment on facts. No matter how much UM doesn’t like it.
The Queensland case brought a year into my defence of the Benhayon proceedings by Ray & Caroline is similar, but they are claiming I damaged their reputations with statements I made about their public promotions of UM.
A person can’t be defamed by a person telling the truth – the real world factual truth, based on proper factual materials. That’s the law. Which is where UM – including the plaintiffs – will struggle to prove their public allegations about me. I’ve written them into my defences. They claim I have made ‘false’ accusations and ‘baseless’ complaints that were all ‘dismissed’. I will produce documents that prove those allegations are false.
The long of it: Raphael & Karam v Rockett September hearing
20 September Caroline and Ray took us to a hearing of their application for a declaration of jurisdiction and to hear the remainder of their application to strike out some of my defence.
It was their third go at the latter. You might remember Paula Fletcher filed and listed the strike out hearing in early May having refused to negotiate a mutually convenient hearing date that would enable counsel to appear for me. I had to appear in Brisbane to represent myself at short notice while I was trying to comply with the court orders for the Benhayon claim. The strike out application was adjourned, partly because Charles Wilson estimated it would be a two hour hearing for two applications, but he spent 90 minutes rabbiting on with the simpler application.
Anyway, Team UM had another go at the strike out application in June, but Her Honour on that occasion decided she didn’t have jurisdiction to hear half of it. I lost about seven imputations at that hearing – out of 46 or something they wanted struck out. Not a bad result. Her Honour ordered that costs for that hearing were ‘costs in the proceedings’ meaning they’d be decided at the conclusion, depending how we go at trial.
20 September was Raphael & Karam’s final tilt at it. It was the first time I’d been represented at hearing by the Brisbane QC (Queens Counsel) who signed on to help. He’s currently defending Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (himself a former QC) in a defamation claim brought by disgraced mining magnate Clive Palmer, and he’s defending one of Australia’s highest profile broadcasters in another.
His Honour decided early that the judge in June had erred on the jurisdictional decision and therefore the matter was okay to be heard in the Queensland court, so we moved on to the strike out application. Charles Wilson brought along his fat binders stuffed with legal precedents to assist Rob the QC and the judge with their grasp of defamation law. Charles then was on his feet arguing for most of the three hours. With the judge. His Honour said early in the hearing that he thought that defamation law is too ‘intellectualized’. (It is. Too technical.) And that he thought these interlocutory hearings took up too much time and expense when ‘most of these (defamation) cases settle out of court’. Charlie smugly retorted words to the effect that there was no chance of his clients settling. I don’t think remarks like that set the judiciary’s world on fire. From what I understand, courts are rather more amenable to litigants who show a willingness to compromise. I’ve said it before, the courts don’t want overblown cases like this to take up precious time and resources, particularly when we are looking at a trial of several weeks where the likelihood of an award of damages is dismal. Nor was His Honour thrilled to see Wilson’s 21 page outline of argument when the applications practice note now specifies that they should be no more than four pages. His Honour was so not-thrilled that he tore off the first 12 or so pages and tossed them over his shoulder. They landed on the floor with a plop.
Nevertheless, on Charles went with his three hour argument. His Honour was not disposed to stop for a tea break and Charles remained on his toes through lunch as well. His Honour stopped Charles from time to time to read through some of the precedents and eventually fairly drily disagreed with everything he submitted. Around about the two and three quarter hour mark, His Honour decided he’d heard enough and that he needed some time to think on four out of the ten subparagraphs Ray & Caroline wanted struck out. He moved to adjourn and invited the lawyers to make further written submissions for him to consider. Rob asked if he might be given a couple of weeks to make his submission, seeing he was off to a conference in Europe, and His Honour told him there was no rush. His Honour has a backlog of reserved judgments, some of which are quite lengthy, and he didn’t expect to get to it until next year. He added that it wouldn’t be high on his list of priorities. Ho Hum.
At that, Charlie’s missus, Alison Greig, she of the 8,000 word apiece ‘true expression’ missives on the UM FACTS site, and Serge’s great defender herself, dropped her mobile phone, from which she had been busily texting, levitated from her pew in the public gallery like a Bride of Serge POSSESSED and swooped wraith-like, all bedecked in black, to the bar table to Charlie’s side, and with some fevered murmurs and a wag of the finger (I’m told), Charlie was back on his feet, and, with a much less smug demeanour than earlier declared ‘my clients withdraw their objections to those last four imputations’. He then requested His Honour hand down his decision there and then, no need to give reasons.
We’re all still chuckling about that.
In spite of abandoning nearly half the day’s argument, Charles thought I should be ordered to pay his clients’ costs and tried to blame me for the judge’s ‘own motion’ decision in June. His Honour said no. No costs.
For perspective, by the end of the September hearing, Team UM had succeeded in striking out 13 of 50 subparagraphs within one fifth of the defence. I don’t expect I’ll even need to rely much on that part of the defence given I’ve pleaded truth as complete defence to the whole claim. An imputation (meaning) is not defamatory if it’s substantially true. Strike out applications are commonly where defences are vulnerable, but mine stood up. We wouldn’t have gone to hearing if we didn’t think it would.
For those wondering, to be awarded costs for that application, I would have had to win outright – as in not have any imputations struck out. Some of you might be aware that we had an outright win in Sydney in May last year for the same sort of strike out application. Serge got none of the contextual truth defence struck out and I was awarded costs. In NSW costs are tallied at conclusion of proceedings.
NSW update before and after special
Work is underway in preparation for hearing in NSW where we’ll seek new orders for discovery and interrogatories.
I’m not anywhere near satisfied that Serge has complied with court orders to disclose documents in his possession relevant to facts in issue. I’ve given notice several times, and Team UM responds with increasingly lengthy excuses for a lot of missing and manipulated documents. The only way to resolve these kind of shenanigans is to ask the court to sort it out. On 27 July I gave notice for the second time of what was missing. It took 6 weeks to get the reply, 31 pages of it, and another three weeks to get a fourth amended (corrected) list of documents to include those Team Esoteric concedes were missing. It’s still not adequate, seven months since orders were handed down. The same folk expected me to produce and index over 700 documents in 14 days, while under pre-existing court orders to produce and index another 2,500 and while attending to the rest of their bloated list of demands.
The highlights of Serge’s list of excuses for not giving over a heap of documents? He’s deleted all his emails. He doesn’t have anything to do with the running of certain businesses he owns or websites he publishes, or fundraising for his interests. He knows of no ‘investigation’ by the ATO. My sources (staff of government departments) are unreliable. My letters are poorly drafted and the UM brains trust are struggling with working out which documents they can avoid handing over. His workshop manuals printed in the thousands for the past 15 years are ‘not publicly available’. I will use the content of the ‘discovered’ documents for purposes other than the proceedings (at risk of a contempt of court charge). The court orders for copies of documents recording all complaints about him and his interests are ‘overly broad’. The Lords of Form ate Serge’s email server. Etc.
I’m surprised they haven’t written to tell me they won’t hand over the documents because I’m pranic, Astral, loveless and in pain. They’ve come close though.
Read on for the best of the Esotericisms from Paula Fletcher’s last letter.
Poor Serge alleges he can’t afford a proper email server. Times must be tough. He says he’s deleted all but 200 emails since 2009 relevant to about 156 categories of documents. In other words he’s kept no emails discussing a huge range of issues – bequests, donations, dealings with regulators, a few dozen websites he publishes and the funding of those, volunteer labour, me, Judith McIntyre, students seeking his guidance etc.
To save space.
Next, we know he studiously records all of his presentations but then he and his army of World Servers must throw them randomly into a barrel ‘uncatalogued’, upturn it and then roll it around the Converys Lane dungeon whilst poncing through True Movement and rubbing each other’s breasts. Because technology, in the form of a folder one stores on their hard drive, hasn’t been invented or something. Either way he doesn’t think he should give over recordings that aren’t available via subscription because he has a right to file a very large claim encompassing a broad and general range of conduct and imputations, but ‘the troll’ doesn’t have the right to apply the civil procedure rules. Or to have a defence for that matter. Court orders be damned.
And besides there’s too much damaging material in that footage to possibly process it all.
Why make such a big defamation claim then if you can’t cope with the corresponding level of scrutiny?
Funny thing is I didn’t ask for all the recorded material. I asked him to provide a list of what he has, and I offered to make a reasonable selection from it.
Similarly, Team UM wants to pretend the images and healing claims within 15 years worth of workshop manuals aren’t relevant to proceedings, and that they didn’t need to give them over because publishing thousands of them for students doesn’t make them publicly available. On Planet UM I’m ‘not entitled’ to electronic copies, even though the rules make sure people only have to pay to photocopy stuff (in this case several dozen manuals of up to 100 pages each) if it can’t be provided electronically. And besides Team UM feels from their innermosts I would risk a contempt of court charge to do something ‘collateral’ with them before trial. It’s a pretty frank admission Serge’s lawyers know the contents are problematic.
Serge admits the UM Facts website is registered in his name, and that he is the publisher, but the authors and admins – contractor to UM Jonathan Baldwin, UM employee Desiree Delaloye, UM spokesperson Alison Greig, and UM Facts Team lightning rod and counsel for Serge, Charles Wilson aren’t his spokespersons or agents. No! The World’s Teacher is powerless against their voracious publishing about him and his business.
Perhaps he should sue *them*.
There are rules about not creating new documents for disclosure, but UM’s bookkeeper Deborah Benhayon decided from her innermost what was ‘appropriate’ to give over in terms of attendance records. And oops, the story changed between letters.
Discovery entails giving a copy of each and every document within each category in the court orders that contains the relevant info. In which case Debbie should have given us both sets, including the set with the financial info. None of it should have been redacted, particularly with no explanation and no excuse. Privacy can’t possibly be the issue for a population of devotees who’ve broadcast their longstanding ardour for UM across the internet. The categories in the orders specified documents recording the attendances. It’s not necessary for each category to spell out why each document that falls within a category is relevant to over sixty alleged imputations about the conduct of a corporation and its Glorious leader, including the way he makes his profits – the list of categories would have been 300 pages long. In addition, what is relevant or not relevant to the defamation claim within each document is up to the court to decide. It’s not up to Deborah Benhayon to decide which bits of documents are ‘appropriate’ to the categories of discovery and edit the documents as she feels to. They should not be edited at all. It is, however, up to the solicitor to make sure the client is advised of his obligations.
Moving along. This story changed as well between June and September. He of the sixth dimensional omniscient clairsentience forgot he owns Unimed Living Pty Ltd.
He’s not just a director of the single shareholder of Unimed Living Pty Ltd. He’s the director, the sole director, and the sole shareholder of the sole shareholder of Unimed Living. Yep, he owns United Wisdom, which owns Unimed Living. Outright. Paula.
That’s information available in the public domain.
Oh, and look at who the Unimed Living directors are: Neil Gamble, Neil Ringe, Desiree Delaloye and Nicola Lessing. Remember Unimed Living? It’s a content mill for UM’s big promotional website where the Benhayons and UM are glorified on each of its 1000 or so pages. 250+ volunteers provide the content, Serge owns the copyright and UM charges the same volunteers a ‘subscription’ to fund a platform for them to read their own dull, repetitive, and frankly loopy stuff while making it available for free to Astral plane dwellers bored, stupid or drunk enough to work through it.
Anyway, Serge is not allowed access to the books. Of his company. That he owns.
He has no idea how his ‘product’ is sold. We copped this argument in other categories as well. He has no role in his own businesses. What next? Will he start saying he has no role in his own religion?
I’m likely to use information gathered by me during the trial? Trials are public. It’s called open justice. It’s not just me. The public is free to observe the hearings and use whatever evidence is given. Once a document is given in evidence, it becomes a public document – if it isn’t one already. Paula. Serge filed the defamation claim. What did he think would happen? Why would Team UM be worried about admissable evidence I bring to prove the truth of the imputations? ‘Ongoing activities’? Serge reckons he’s going to get injunctions against me publishing about him. Doesn’t he? Didn’t Charles Wilson publish a statement saying I had to be stopped? Isn’t that what Team UM hopes to achieve in going to trial? Having proven Serge’s world famous ‘integrity’?
Team Eso is not looking confident.
It’ll be an interesting hearing.
My defences are alive and kicking butt thanks to the support of a number of you. Thank you so much to those of you who’ve chipped in. I would not have made it to this stage without you. I’m aiming to return to earning income as soon as I can.
However, I need more of you to help until I can get back to earning, and from there a bit of help from time to time with expenses. If and when either of these claims get to trial, the evidence I will bring will fully expose UM. Evidence continues to come in and if anything it gets stronger. By helping me get to trial, you are supporting not only a public service, but a history making trial of an unprecedented amount of evidence against a group of this kind. The media interest is enormous. By contributing you give me more time to devote to working on the defences, continuing to investigate and continuing to blog. Time I spend trying to raise funds to survive could be time spent doing more to protect you, your loved ones and vulnerable members of the community. The more of you that chip in, the easier it makes it for all of us. Don’t think twice, please donate.
I’d also like to remind you all of the kindness and quality of my legal counsel. It’s a pity a lot of you might not get to meet them. As I said to Mr Molomby the other day, ‘it’s like winning the lottery – twice!’. He said, ‘go easy!’ Please remember, the barristers representing me can and do earn top dollar from clients who pay as they go, but they’ve agreed to bill me at the conclusion, contingent on an award of costs. They’re not putting in the time and the skill for me. They’re doing it for you – for the public interest. They want a fair hearing and for justice to be done.
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