Chelmsford hospital defamation case ends in settlement and apology for claims in Scientology book

Published By with Comments

Categorized as Uncategorized Tagged , , , ,

A long-running defamation case sparked by the ABC journalist Steve Cannane’s 2016 book on Scientology has ended with a confidential settlement and an apology.

Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia included a range of claims about the use of a controversial psychiatric treatment – deep sleep therapy – at Sydney’s Chelmsford private hospital in the 1960s and 70s.

The therapy was blamed for the deaths and suicides of psychiatric patients.

Those claims were based on the findings of a royal commission into the hospital in the 1980s. Cannane’s book had a chapter on the role of Scientology in exposing the hospital.

Two of the doctors mentioned in the royal commission and in Cannane’s book, John Gill (a general practitioner) and John Herron (a psychiatrist who has since died), denied any wrongdoing and launched a defamation case against Cannane’s publisher, HarperCollins, in 2017.

An initial judgment found the claims were substantially true, and dismissed the defamation case, saying Cannane was entitled to trust the royal commission’s findings.

The men lodged an appeal, and the full court of the federal court overturned the judgment because of its reliance on “dead experts” who had given evidence to the 1988 royal commission but could not be cross-examined in the defamation proceedings. In 2022 the court found that Gill was entitled to a retrial.

HarperCollins launched its own appeal, but that was refused earlier this year.

On Monday, the matter was settled for an undisclosed amount and the publisher apologised.

“HarperCollins sincerely apologises to Dr Gill for the distress and harm which he and his family have suffered as a result of the allegations made against Dr Gill in the book, and it withdraws them,” the publisher told the court on Monday.

There is also an injunction stopping Cannane from repeating the eight defamatory meanings found to have been conveyed in the book.

Gill said he was pleased to “have finally been vindicated” and that the settlement had been “an extraordinarily long time in the making”.

Content retrieved from:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trenton, New Jersey 08618
609.396.6684 | Feedback

Copyright © 2022 The Cult News Network - All Rights Reserved