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Twitter gets hit with defamation suit downunder

Social media's scarlett woman Marieke Hardy starts chain reaction

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Twitter has been hit with a potentially ground breaking defamation suit from wrongfully accused Australian Twitter ‘stalker’ Joshua Meggitt.

Meggitt has been embroiled in an elaborate drama with TV personality and prolific social media maven Marieke Hardy. Last year Hardy wrongly alleged that Meggitt was behind a hate blog dedicated to her.

After investigation Hardy recanted her claims on December 23rd posted on her blog: "For over five years I have been the victim of a hate blog against me. On 9 November 2011 I incorrectly identified Joshua Meggitt on this site as the man responsible for writing that blog. I accept that Joshua is not the writer and I sincerely apologise to him and his family for any upset caused."

Hardy settled the matter with Meggitt in a confidential settlement, but he is now pursuing Twitter itself for damages.

Melbourne based Gibson Legal issued Twitter HQ with the legal notice under the defamation act yesterday on behalf of Meggitt.

Meggit’s lawyer Stuart Gibson confirmed to The Register that the legal process was underway and the notice was the fundamental first stage of the defamation proceedings.

Gibson would not supply details of the legal document but said the writ included unspecified damages, legal costs and public apologies. Should the matter hit Australian courts the exepectation would be that the CEO of Twitter would appear.

Gibson said that to his knowledge Twitter had not been hit with such a legal demand before adding that the high profile Gutnick vs Barons case established a principle where the place in which someone downloads news information is the sufficient nexus to establish where the legal jurisdiction falls.

“It is only a matter of time that one of the biggest media companies in the world [is confronted by this issue]. Twitter is a publisher like any other,” he said.

Gibson said that his clients claims were strong and “we will wait and see” if this sets a new media precedent. ®

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