Greens Takedown Their Own MP Jeremy Buckingham Over Multiple Defamation Threats

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Greens NSW has issued a rare public rebuke to one of its own elected members amid revelations the MP has directed multiple legal threats against party members, despite publicly calling for defamation laws to be reformed so that politicians can’t abuse them.

In 2015, Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham and radio shock-jock Alan Jones were sued by then Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner for comments they made in the course of anti-coal seam gas campaigning.

The lawsuit was eventually dropped, prompting Mr Buckingham to publicly call for sweeping changes to defamation laws.

“Australia is a robust democracy and criticism of public representatives is an important part of our democratic system. There should be a much higher bar set for politicians to sue for defamation, such as what exists in the United States,” he said at the time.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, pictured with Sydney shock-jock Alan Jones. Both were the subject of a defamation action launched by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner in 2014.

But since then, Mr Buckingham has issued legal threats against at least four current or former members of his own party, three of which are centred around recent allegations that Mr Buckingham sexually assaulted a former Greens staffer, Ella Buckland in 2011.

Mr Buckingham strongly denies the allegations, although Ms Buckland is standing by her claims.

One of those being sued is Tom Raue, the Greens NSW candidate for the seat of Summer Hill. It appears to be unprecedented in NSW political history for a member of a political party to be suing colleagues in the shadow of an upcoming state election.

The fourth legal threat – issued by Mr Buckingham just over a year after his public criticisms of defamation laws – was against a teenager who described Mr Buckingham as a “massive fucking hypocrite” in a closed Facebook forum with less than 600 members.

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The young woman, Vanamali Hermans, aged 18 at the time, was a Young Greens member in December 2016 when she posted the comments. She was caring for her gravely ill mother when she received the threats, and left the party soon after.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham. INSET: A Twitter message he sent a teenager in December 2016, just over a year after publicly railing against the misuse of defamation laws.

Overnight, Greens NSW co-convenors Sylvia Hale and Rochelle Flood told New Matilda that all members of the Greens NSW were expected to adhere to the Greens’ convention around ‘slap suits’, a reference to the use of defamation laws to silence critics.

“We are perturbed that a Greens member would seek to take legal action against another member,” Ms Flood and Ms Hale wrote in a joint statement. “The Greens have a long history of campaigning against slap suits whose purpose is to intimidate.

“It is inappropriate for people of wealth and influence to use the courts to silence and intimidate those who do not have the same resources or platform.

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“The Greens stand by this policy. We expect our members to uphold and comply with the same standards that we demand of others.”

Mr Buckingham’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

New Matilda’s investigation into the sexual assault allegations raised by Ms Buckland is ongoing.

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

Nina Funnell & Chris Graham

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.

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