Australia

Jack de Belin, Daily Telegraph settle defamation case over ‘rapist’ allegations

De Belin’s defamation barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, SC, told the Federal Court on Wednesday that the proceedings had been settled “after a successful settlement conference between the parties … after the criminal proceedings finalised”. The parties will bear their own legal costs.

In the defamation suit filed in February last year, de Belin’s lawyers had sought damages and legal costs for a Telegraph story published on February 21, 2019, headlined “Rub Out the Grubs: League Immortal draws line in sand on NRL shame.”

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The defamation case was filed after criminal charges were laid but before the trials. The defamation case was stayed, or suspended, pending final determination of the criminal proceedings.

The front-page story featured an interview with Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and reported that the former footballer “wants the NRL to bench stars charged by police during the code’s summer of shame until their cases are heard by courts”.

“Meninga told The Daily Telegraph yesterday accused rapist Jack de Belin should be suspended immediately while he contests a rape charge and the NRL had to act on violence against women,” the report said.

De Belin also sued over a related tweet which linked to the story and said: “Kangaroos coach says NRL bad boys should be stood down from playing.”

Lawyers for de Belin alleged the story and tweet defamed the suspended NRL player by suggesting he is “a rapist” and a “despicable person in that he raped a woman”.

They said the same allegations were conveyed by the front page in combination with a cartoon on page 23 of the newspaper, which featured Meninga grabbing the throat of a man who is wearing a football jersey with the word “creep” printed across the chest. The man in the jersey was in turn grabbing the throat of a woman.

Mr de Belin was the first NRL player to be stood down under the competition’s no-fault rule, where players charged with an offence carrying a maximum prison term of 11 years or more are automatically stood down until their court proceedings are finalised.

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