17 Apr 2014

Karam defamer says he can't pay

6:36 pm on 17 April 2014

A man ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for defaming David Bain campaigner Joe Karam says the penalty is too harsh and he will appeal against it.

Long-time Bain supporter Joe Karam.

Long-time Bain supporter Joe Karam. Photo: RNZ

Kent Parker and Victor Purkiss have been ordered to pay Mr Karam more than $500,000 for comments made about him on the social networking site Facebook and on a website.

In the High Court decision, Justice Courtney said Mr Parker and Mr Purkiss worked persistently to discredit and undermine Mr Karam and to raise the profile of the websites.

The judge said about 50 defamatory statements were made by the pair and few aspects of Mr Karam's reputation were left untouched as they accused him of dishonesty, fraud, and lack of integrity, among other things.

Kent Parker, whose share of the damages is $350,000 says it's the sort of amount he would expect a large broadcasting organisation to be ordered to pay - not two people who ran comments seen by 30 or 40 people.

He says he will appeal against the judgement because of errors of fact and the way the trial was conducted. He says the amount awarded is disproportionate and he cannot afford to pay.

Matters made worse

Joe Karam has said the problem was made far worse when the views of Kent Parker and Victor Purkiss were given coverage in mainstream media. He said they openly and continually sought publicity in the media which led to more exposure for their websites.

Mr Karam said the comments would have stayed within a small group of people if large media outlets had not become involved. Mr Karam previously reached a legal settlement with Fairfax and TradeMe over the issue.

He told Radio New Zealand he doesn't expect he will receive the money awarded to him.

"Whether they've got any money, or how much they've got, is hard to tell. Purkiss disappeared (he took off and didn't even come to defend himself) to England. I know that he does have funds, but whether he can be found and whether those funds are still available, I don't know. My lawyers are pursuing it."