South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, who has no problem casting verbal stones at his political opponents, is apparently unable to weather similar volleys lobbed at himself.
Atkinson is up in arms over a December 8, 2009 story that appeared on the website AdelaideNow which reported on a gathering of motorcycle club members. In a resulting user comment on the story, someone referred to the South Australian AG as a “crook.” The comment (#86) was quickly removed from the story and two apologies were issued.
The commenter in question, Dean McQuillan, used his real name in his post and has subsequently received a letter from Atkinson’s lawyers alleging that the comment was “highly defamatory” towards Atkinson. The AG’s lawyers requested $20,000 as compensation and the “publication of a full retraction and apology.”
McQuillan told ABC’s MediaWatch that he is bankrupt and replied to Atkinson’s lawyers with a “robust response,” but has heard nothing since.
MediaWatch offered its own take on the situation:
The state's chief law officer is prepared to threaten an ordinary citizen with ruin for posting rude remarks on the net, even when they were taken down within a couple of hours.
Again, this is a man (Atkinson) who said that he expected his political opposition from the Gamers4Croydon party to utilize ”criminal activities and dirty tricks” in their campaign against him.
Atkinson also tried to suppress online comments earlier this year in advance of the coming elections by introducing a law that would force users to publish their real name and post code alongside their comments. A civil outcry forced him to repeal the measure.
Thanks SeanB and PHC Corp