Defamatory email writers go free
profrv at nex.net.au
Sun May 16 06:07:23 PDT 1999
Copycat offences feared after defamatory email writers go free
August 26 2002
Copycat offences were escalating after the culprits of malicious emails
defaming a Brisbane High School principal and his deputy escaped
investigation, the Queensland Opposition has said.
Shadow Attorney-General Lawrence Springborg has criticised the government
over Queensland legal blocks to police investigating a false website which
accused the pair of child abuse.
Both teachers remain on stress leave despite being cleared of any wrongdoing.
Queensland Attorney-General Rod Welford earlier said Victorian law was
hampering the investigation into who produced the Website, which allegedly
emanated at a Victorian address.
But Mr Springborg said Queensland law prevented Victorian police from
securing a warrant to search the Victorian premises believed to be the
source of the Website.
He tabled a letter in Parliament from Queensland Police Commissioner Bob
Atkinson in which he said Queensland law was the problem.
"Victorian police advise that a search warrant cannot be obtained as the
offence committed is classified as a summary offence (in Queensland)," Mr
Atkinson said in the letter.
Today, Mr Springborg said the law needed changing so others did not fall
prey to malicious gossip.
"There are more complaints about obscene emails from teachers at Brisbane
public high schools, falsely claiming to be from their workmates," Mr
"(The government) must take heed of the opposition's warning and provide a
sufficient criminal deterrent for people who continue to spread malicious
lies and gossip about other people."
Mr Springborg is drafting a private members' bill to make defamation a
criminal offence with a five year jail term.
He said the Victorian law was five times stronger than Queensland law and
if applied could have seen warrants issued against offenders.
He blamed the Goss Labor government for taking defamation out of the
Queensland criminal code.
"The Goss Labor government weakened the defamation laws in 1995 and these
recent cases prove that the decision was a massive mistake," Mr Springborg
"In the age of the Internet, we are all increasingly vulnerable."
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