The ABC and John Pesutto accused of defaming Let Women Speak organisers and speakers

Let Women Speak founder Kellie-Jay Keen is preparing to lodge a defamation case against Victorian Liberal leader John Pesutto and the ABC for slurring her as a Nazi and Nazi sympathiser. Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming's similar case has been set for trial in September. Melbourne organiser Angie Jones has also issued a concerns notice.

All three women are using the same legal team which includes Katherine Deves who is working with Alexander Rashidi Lawyers and Barrister Bridie Nolan. There are also the team representing Sall Grover in Tickle v Giggle.

Ms Keen’s concerns notices follow a notice she issued in late August, against Mr Pesutto and the other three members of his Liberal leadership team, accusing them of making “grossly misconceived, wilfully vexatious, and wretchedly false” claims, which she argued had 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.

In her new notice against the ABC, she accuses the public broadcaster of defaming her in a 7.30 interview, which was conducted by host Sarah Ferguson with Mr Pesutto on March 27 — just over a week after the Melbourne “Let Women Speak” rally, and the evening after Ms Deeming had been suspended from the Liberal partyroom.

The notice accuses 7.30 of making 11 defamatory imputations against Ms Keen, implying that she either is a neo-Nazi or sympathises with people who are.

In her introduction to the interview, Ms Ferguson described Ms Keen as “controversial UK figure, Kellie-Jay Keen, an anti-trans activist associated with the far-right”, and went on to portray her in questions to Mr Pesutto as “someone with very clear … far-right associations, many of which you detailed in the dossier that you presented to your own partyroom” and “a woman with Neo-Nazi and far right associations.”

The notices also detail John Pesuttos’ insistence that Kellie-Jay has associated with Neo-Nazi’s and the far right despite the fact no direct links have ever been made. Neil Mitchell of 3AW asked the Victorian opposition leader several times if he believed Keen was associated with Nazi’s.

In the Mitchell interview, Mr Pesutto said Ms Deeming had “associations, Neil, with organisations, with organisers of Saturday’s protest who have known links with Nazis, Nazi sympathisers, far right extremists, white supremacists.”

Asked who he was referring to, Mr Pesutto said: “Kellie-Jay Keen.”

“And she’s had associations with, she’s got associations with Nazis?” Mitchell asked, to which Mr Pesutto responded: “Absolutely.”

Asked who the Nazis were, Mr Pesutto said: “Okay so, Jean-Francois Gariepy, she’s done videos with Richard Spencer, Mark Collett, Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. There is a long rap sheet.”

Asked whether they were videos or interviews, Mr Pesutto said: “Videos, interviews. She’s shared platforms with this person.”

During the interview, and in the dossier that was later circulated, Pesutto also accused Angie Jones of being a Nazi sympathiser. His comments have allegedly resulted in harm and threats to all of the women.

The Let Women Speak events were designed to give all women a platform to share their experiences of being silenced, harassed, censored, intimidated or bullied for simply defending women’s sex-based rights. The actions of the ABC and Pesutto immediately after the event demonstrate why it is so important to let women speak. The unacceptable accusations that accompany speaking out must be challenged. This will be a very important case for all Australians who speak truth to power.