AS as of February 8, 2022 comments are no longer accepted on articles.

The fact of the matter is that every comment MUST be moderated by myself before being published. This process requires me to read each comment and then either approve or decline. If I approve the comment, I become the editor of this comment and, as such, I become responsible for this comment. It will be me who will be prosecuted for your defamatory statement.

Rather than poring over each comment and making the decision to post or not, I think it’s safer for me to no longer provide the outlet. It’s a shame because there is excellent commentators here who play by the rules, but alas, they outnumber the steady stream of keyboard warriors who wish to express themselves outside the rules of editing.

On September 8, 2021, the High Court ruled that the media are legally liable for defamatory comments made by the public on posts made on an organisation’s Facebook pages. The decision has implications for all media organizations that run social media pages or have commenting features on their websites. If the default setting allowing comments on a post is not changed, this is considered an invitation or encouragement to comment. If someone posts a defamatory comment, the media organization that owns the page is legally considered a “publisher” of the comments and can be sued.

Due to the risks associated with comments from unidentified contributors which expose The Beagle to possible legal action under the NSW Defamation Act 2005, Comments No 77 are NO LONGER available.

PS. Do not hesitate to Email us via our normal or encrypted email accounts. Letters to the editor are encouraged.

Please note that if you are looking for a previous comment that is no longer visible, please Contact us.

And before considering any defamation lawsuit:

DEFAMATION ACT 2005 – SECT 25

defense of justification

25 Defense of justification

It is a defense to the publication of a defamatory statement if the defendant proves that the defamatory charges made by the statement complained of by the plaintiff are substantially true.

DEFAMATION ACT 2005 – SECT 31

Honest Opinion Defenses

31 Honest Opinion Defenses

(1) This is a defense to publishing a defamatory statement if the defendant proves that–

(a) the matter was an expression of an opinion of the respondent rather than a statement of fact, and

(b) the advice relates to a matter of public interest, and

(c) the notice is based on the right material.

(2) This is a defense against the publication of a defamatory statement if the defendant proves that –

(a) the matter was an expression of the opinion of an employee or agent of the defendant rather than a statement of fact, and

(b) the advice relates to a matter of public interest, and

(c) the notice is based on the right material.

(3) This is a defense against the publication of a defamatory statement if the defendant proves that –

a) the case was the expression of one person’s opinion (the
“commentator”), other than the defendant or an employee or agent of the defendant, rather than a statement of fact, and

(b) the advice relates to a matter of public interest, and

(c) the notice is based on the right material.

(4) A defense under this section shall fail if, and only if, the plaintiff proves that:

(a) in the case of a defense under subsection (1)–the opinion was not honestly held by the defendant at the time the defamatory matter was published, or

(b) in the case of a defense under subsection (2)–the defendant did not believe that the opinion was honestly held by the employee or agent at the time the defamatory matter was published, or

(c) in the case of a defense under subsection (3)–the defendant had reasonable grounds to believe that the opinion was not honestly shared by the commentator at the time the defamatory statement was published.

(5) For the purposes of this section, a notice is
“based on suitable material” if–

(a) the material on which it is based is–

(i) set out in specific or general terms in the published document, or

(ii) notorious, or

(iii) accessible from a reference, link or other access point included in the matter (for example, a hyperlink on a web page), or

(iv) otherwise apparent from the context in which the subject matter is published, and

(b) the material–

(i) is substantially true, or

(ii) was published on the occasion of absolute or qualified privilege (whether under this Act or common law), or

(iii) was published on an occasion which attracted the protection of a defense under this section or section 28 Where 29.

(6) An opinion does not cease to be based on the right material only because some of the matters on which it is based are not appropriate if the opinion can reasonably be based on the appropriate matters.

Further reading