Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham Threatened To Sue Teenager For Calling Him A ‘Bully, Hypocrite’


Just over a year after publicly railing about politicians misusing defamation laws, Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham threatened to sue a teenager for posting comments critical of him in a closed Facebook group with less than 600 members. When the young woman offered to remove the post in exchange for Mr Buckingham agreeing to not sue, he told her it was “not a negotiation” and demanded she provide a contact email address so his lawyers could serve her with legal papers.

At the time, the young woman was sitting at the beside of her gravely ill mother in the Intensive Care Unit of a far north coast hospital.

And the comments which upset Mr Buckingham? He was accused of bullying, and being a “massive fucking hypocrite”.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, pictured in August 2011. (IMAGE: Kate Ausburn, Flickr)

Mr Buckingham is coming under increasing scrutiny for his use of lawyers to threaten political colleagues, after launching legal action against four current/former Greens party members who commented on public allegations he sexually assaulted a Greens staffer, Ella Buckland, in 2011. The incident is the subject of an ongoing New Matilda investigation, although Mr Buckingham has strongly denied the assault occurred.

The young woman at the centre of the latest story – Vanamali Hermans – had met Mr Buckingham in 2014 while she was a Year 11 student on the NSW north coast. She joined the party soon after, but quickly became disillusioned. In December 2016, aged 18, Ms Hermans took to the closed NSW Greens Facebook group – total membership less than 600 at the time – to vent after being accused by Mr Buckingham of favouring other Greens politicians’ Facebook posts over his.


“Yep! I love that we have MPs and a wider membership that use young people as political expenditure and free labour, then blame issues on them to cover their own asses or want nothing to do with them after they’ve squeezed them of all their free time. As a volunteer, I love being harassed by Jeremy Buckingham during parliamentary time for not sharing his content, then having the massive fucking hypocrite refuse to share our content. I love being called a young socialist troll. I love being a young person in this party! It rocks!”

The following day, Mr Buckingham tracked Ms Hermans down through her Twitter account, and privately messaged her.

“I have been made aware a (sic) defamatory and damaging comments by you, which name me, on Facebook yesterday the 17.12.2016. I request that you delete these comments immediately. Could you please provide me with an email or postal contact for yourself or your legal representative. Jeremy Buckingham.”

Ms Hermans received the message while she was sitting next to her mother’s bed in a hospital on the far north coast.

“For context, at the time… my mum had been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. I was literally sitting beside my mum’s bed in the intensive care unit going, like, ‘Is she going to die?’ when I get this message from Jeremy.

“Mum was in hospital for a year and a half to two years. She’s a quadriplegic now – it was a pretty intense time. Jeremy was just the cherry on top.”

Vanamali Hermans (centre) pictured outside NSW Parliament with the Young Greens in October 2016, shortly before she became the target of a defamation threat by Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham. (IMAGE: Supplied)

Ms Hermans immediately sought legal advice, and was told that the threat from Mr Buckingham was an empty one – it wasn’t “actionable”. She replied the following day.

“The message I sent back [to Mr Buckingham]  was exactly what the lawyer told me to send,” Ms Hermans said.

She wrote: “Jeremy, I have sought legal advice and do not accept that the comments referred to by you are actionable. If, however, you are willing to agree not to sue in relation to the comments, I will have them removed.”

Mr Buckingham appeared unmoved at the offer to make amends, replying:

“This is not a negotiation. Again, I request you immediately delete your comments referring to me, and provide me with the best email.”

Ms Hermans says she ignored his reply, blocked him on every social media channel, and never heard from him again.

“It was clear to me from the get go it was him trying to intimidate me and be a bully. He definitely knew I was a teenager… because he’d had dealings with me as a young Greens convenor, and he’d met me in my high school uniform two years previously.”

Despite escaping unscathed, Ms Hermans said she was shaken by the incident.

“I was 18. Of course I was going to be scared when a 40-year-old MP is messaging me trying to sue me,” she said.

“It was a horrible time. I don’t think I was processing much at all. Mainly I was just worried ‘Is my mum going to die’. But it definitely increased my anxiety. It was awful.”


Ultimately, Ms Hermans lasted less than three years in the party, leaving at the beginning of 2017 just two months after she was pursued by Mr Buckingham. She doesn’t look back on her time with the Greens fondly, despite her initial enthusiasm in high school.

“I had met Jeremy… when I was 16, when he came to a Greens dinner in my home town of Murwillumbah. At the time… I was like ‘Cool’. I was new to the party and didn’t know he was a massive fucking cunt.”

Mr Buckingham did not respond to a series of questions from New Matilda, or requests for comment.

DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING? Have you been threatened with defamation by a politician? You can email by clicking here or contact the authors of this story directly by going to Nina Funnell’s Facebook page here, or Chris Graham’s Facebook page here. They’re both on Twitter here, and here.

NINA FUNNELL is an Our Watch Walkley award winning freelance journalist and a director of End Rape On Campus Australia. Nina has been named Journalist of the Year at the B&T Women in Media awards (2019) and one of the 100 most influential women in Australia by the Australian Financial Review (2018). Nina has also been awarded the United Nations Media Award (2017), an Australian Human Rights Commission community individual award (2010) and in 2019 her #LetHerSpeak campaign was named News Corp's 'News Campaign of the Year'. CHRIS GRAHAM has worked in the media for more than three decades. He has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation, and has twice been awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission - Print Media Award for his reporting on Indigenous affairs. Chris also shared the Michael Schneider Award in the United States for an investigative feature on asbestos. Chris served on the Australian Press Council for three years, and is the editor and owner of New Matilda. He is the former founding editor of the National Indigenous Times.