Explosive argument behind Trad’s defamation reasoning
The man carrying a legal bomb into courtroom 11A in the NSW Supreme Court building on Friday morning did not look menacing and is not menacing under normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. This was cultural war. The legal bomb was brought to court by the once leonine figure of Clive Evatt, a veteran defamation lawyer who now walks with the aid of a cane, on which his severely bent frame leans heavily.
As Evatt took his place at the plaintiff’s bench, the man on whose instructions he was acting, Keysar Trad – a thickset, bearded man wearing a grey suit, blue shirt and tie – sat alone in the back row of the public gallery.
Trad is no stranger to litigation. Over many years he has expended untold hours making formal complaints to the NSW Supreme Court, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Human Rights Commission, the Press Council, other review bodies and, above all, the media, where he has operated as a quote-machine representing the Muslim community in Australia.
He was in court on Friday because of a disaster of his own making. After delivering a hostile tirade against Sydney’s top-rated radio station, 2GB, during a ”peace” rally in 2005, Trad was himself criticised the next day by a 2GB presenter, Jason Morrison, though not in the same language Trad had used at the rally where he claimed to speak on behalf of Muslims in Australia.
Trad sued for defamation. He was the star witness for his own case. The senior judge, Justice Peter McClellan, the chief judge of common law in the NSW Supreme Court, found against Trad, and found him to be a witness of little credibility, a man of extreme views and, in summary, ”a disgraceful individual”.
Such was Trad’s performance under oath that on Friday the counsel for the defence, Richard McHugh, SC, delivered this devastating portrayal of his credibility under oath: ”[Trad] attempted to evade responsibility for his statements by claiming he was misquoted, by claiming he was taken out of context, by claiming he had changed his mind, or by claiming he did not even know what he had said or written at the instant he said or wrote it. He was entirely disbelieved.
”[His] evidence that he did not know who was the author ofÂ Mein Kampf – and his feigned attempts at a thought process to recollect the author’s name – were a low point in this trial. The transcript in this case can supply only a colourless picture of the evidence at trial.”
Interesting. Trad hasn’t heard of Hitler and his bestselling book? Probably never heard of jihad either…?
Even before this appeal, Trad was facing legal costs exceeding $250,000. He decided to up his risk. On Friday morning, I counted 16 lawyers in the court. At this level, justice is neither fast nor cheap.
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