16 Dec 2013

Karam welcomes defamation case settlement

9:50 am on 16 December 2013

Long time David Bain supporter Joe Karam says he is pleased his defamation case against Fairfax New Zealand has been settled.

The Sunday Star Times published an apology on Sunday for printing an article in 2009 which drew attention to private websites which it says attacked Mr Karam's integrity, honesty and general character.

The company says it accepts unreservedly that the comments made about Mr Karam were untrue.

Mr Karam says the terms of settlement are confidential but he is happy with the outcome and the apology and retraction helps to set the record straight.

Legal experts had speculated that if the case against Fairfax had gone to court, it may have helped clarify liability for defamation in respect of links within articles to external websites.

Ursula Cheer from the University of Canterbury Law School told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Monday that in terms of legal development, the private settlement was actually a bit disappointing.

"The issues around linking to websites in your own article, wherever you publish that, were hopefully going to be resolved in court, and now they haven't been" she said.

"The law is very uncertain about that, and we were wondering if this was going to be resolved at the court level. But settlements don't bind anyone but the parties that have agreed to them, so this settlement by itself does not have any influence on the law. "

Mr Karam fought to overturn David Bain's convictions for killing five family members at their Dunedin home in 1994. Mr Bain was acquitted in a retrial.