Judge rules on defamation case around Don Burke

A journalist who accused TV gardener Don Burke of inappropriate behaviour has lost a defamation case in the ACT Supreme Court.

Wendy Dent told the ABC Burke allegedly asked her to audition topless for a role on Burke’s Backyard. She claims Burke implied she was a liar when denying the allegation.

Burke told A Current Affair in 2017 Dent was the participant in a “witch hunt” against him.

ACT Supreme Court Justice David Mossop found that when taken out of context Burke’s words were defamatory, but when taken as part of the whole interview they failed to carry a defamatory imputation.

Clips played during the interview, the questions and statements of Tracy Grimshaw, and her sceptical expressions and demeanour all helped to reinforce the perception that Ms Dent was not lying.

“The end result is one in which the publication, taken as a whole, does not indicate that the allegations made by the plaintiff are false or motivated by a desire to join a ‘witch-hunt’.

“Rather, a fair-minded observer of the program would understand that there were credible allegations made by a number of people including the plaintiff and that the defendant denied the allegations but did so in a manner which gave rise to real doubts about the credibility of his denials.”

Outside court Ms Dent said “It was an absolute vindication because the judge ruled that I am the one to be believed, that my allegations were absolutely credible, and that is what counts,” she said.

Source: ABC

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