Kellie-Jay Keen issues defamation notice to the Victorian Liberal leadership

I sincerely hope that Victorian Liberal leader John Pesutto has had a good hard look at himself. His attitude toward women’s sex-based rights has been exposed and found wanting.

His atrocious comments about the Let Women Speak event being associated with Neo-Nazi’s have now landed him in hot water with defamation notices being issued by Moira Deeming MP and headliner Kellie-Jay Keen.

Not only has Keen issued Pesutto with the notice, but also his entire Victorian leadership team. They have 28 days to apologise and pay compensation for making “grossly misconceived, wilfully vexatious, and wretchedly false” claims, or face Federal Court action:

In her legal letter sent to the Liberal leader, his deputy David Southwick, upper house leader Georgie Crozier and her deputy Matt Bach on Monday, Ms Keen claims their conduct has seen her become the target of “extreme hate, abuse, harassment, and stalking”, and culminated in her “being physically attacked” and “placed in life threatening danger” at a Let Women Speak rally in New Zealand.

The concerns notice focuses in particular on the motion, signed by all four members of the leadership team, which sought to expel Mrs Deeming from the Liberal Party for attending the march — and was circulated to the Liberal partyroom and to journalists by Mr Pesutto’s office in the days following the event.

Attached to the expulsion motion was a 15-page dossier of ­social media screenshots and media reports – mostly relating to Ms Keen – which purported to justify the claim that she was associated with “far right-wing extremist groups including neo-Nazi activists.”

Keen alleges the Victorian Liberal leadership team relied on images or recordings that were not shown in full context. Ms Keen has given several public explanations and condemned all Nazi behaviour.

Ms Keen’s lawyers say it should have been apparent “to any fair minded and reasonable person seeking to rely on the material” in the expulsion motion and dossier, that they “contained direct allegations about our client, which were grossly misconceived, wilfully vexatious, and wretchedly false.”

“Despite the obvious unreliability of the material ... despite our client’s public denunciation of the activities of the NSN, and without affording our client any opportunity to comment on the claims made against her, you, in both your personal and leadership capacities facilitated and/ or countenanced the release of the entirety of the expulsion motion and the annexure to the media, without restriction, to be published to the world at large,” Ms Keen’s lawyers say to Mr Pesutto, Mr Southwick, Ms Crozier and Dr Bach. 

“This conscious act, in turn, saw our client become the target of extreme hate, abuse, harassment, and stalking, in both Australia, New Zealand, and more broadly, culminating in her being physically attacked and her being placed in life threatening danger at a Let Women Speak event in Auckland, New Zealand.”

John Pesutto is not fit to lead the Liberal Party. He has offended women everywhere who simply went to the rallies to speak about women’s sex-based rights. The events had nothing to do with Nazism. It is appalling that he thinks he can get away with the smears.

Good on Moira Deeming and Kellie-Jay Keen for standing their ground and making a way for women to speak and stand against falsehoods and smears.