A Federal court has ordered Ten Network to pay indemnity legal costs and publish a clarification prominently, in connection with the defamation complaint lodged by a US blogger over the coverage of his Australian partner’s death.
The court passed its order on Monday in a plea filed by the blogger that Ten had “buried” the clarification that was agreed as part of the settlement of the defamation proceedings in April 2020. The clarification has to be now posted on the landing page of The Project on 10Play’s website for 14 days.
Dylan Hafertepen had sued for defamation following the channel’s story about the death of his partner Tank Hafertepen, known earlier as Jack Chapman, who died in October 2018 from injecting silicone into his genitals. Tank had died from a lung ailment caused by silicone embolism.
Channel Ten’s The Project hosted by now Q&A host Hamish Macdonald aired a story in November 2018, Justice For Jack. The story was an account of the blogger couple who lived in Seattle and were in a dominant/submissive relationship, with Hafertepen being the ” master” and Tank one of his “pups”. The Project episode featured a segment with a confrontation between Tank’s mother Linda and Hafertepen who was visiting to hand over her son’s ashes.
Following mediation proceedings, Channel Ten and Hafertepen settled the case in April 2020. The terms of settlement said that the channel had agreed to provide Hafertepen with a private apology, post a clarification on the Channel Ten 10Play website for a period of 14 days that said: “Network 10 did not intend to suggest and does not suggest that Mr Hafertepen had anything to do with that death. If anyone took it to mean that, then Network 10 unreservedly retracts any such suggestion.”
The channel also agreed to send clarification letters to global media organisations and Google and also to pay legal costs incurred by Hafertepen capped at $75,000.
Sally Webber, Senior Solicitor at Atkinson Vinden Lawyers, who represented Hafertepen, said in a statement that the order was “the best possible outcome” for her client.
“This is the best outcome for Mr Hafertepen, now he can move forward and focus on repairing the damage to his reputation here in Australia and internationally as a result of the broadcast on The Project.”