Defamation claim involving private moments reported in the Age

April 12, 2013 |

The Age in Liquidator claims in writ that stripper photos led to dismissal reports on an allegedly surreptituous photograph of the Plaintiff in a compromising position with an exotic dancer (stripper in the general vernacular).

It provides:

Strip club operator Maxine Fensom is being sued for defamation by liquidator Glenn Crisp over photographs of him in ”compromising positions with strippers” that were passed on to a man with alleged links to outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Mr Crisp alleges Ms Fensom took photographs without his knowledge on a Yarra River boat cruise in 2012, which he claims cost him his $600,000 a year job and portrayed him as ”a person of disrepute”.

Ms Fensom allegedly copied the photos on to a disk, which was found in the office of Steve Iliopoulos, the director of trucking company Viking Group. Mr Crisp was in charge of liquidating Viking Group.

Mr Iliopoulos, who is fighting fraud charges totalling $33 million over the collapse of Viking Group, has been linked in evidence to the Victorian president of the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle gang, Amad ”Jay” Malkoun.

In a writ filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria, Mr Crisp claims he was invited on to the cruise where ”Ms Fensom attended together with a number of waitresses and erotic dancers”. ”During the course of the boat cruise, without Mr Crisp’s knowledge or consent, Ms Fensom took photographs of Mr Crisp in the company of strippers as they performed,” the writ claims.

Forensic examination confirmed the photos were taken ”on Ms Fensom’s Apple iPhone 3GS mobile phones during the course of the boat cruise”, according to the writ.

Mr Crisp said on Thursday: ”I am after damages for whatever has happened to me.”

Ms Fensom said she did not know Mr Crisp or Mr Iliopoulos and was unaware of the writ.

”I take photos all the time. Everyone knows I video a lot of my events. I had no complaints from this person or any other person in regard to functions and taking photos,” she told Fairfax Media.

Mr Crisp’s writ claims the explicit photos were discovered on a disk two weeks later following a search of Mr Iliopoulos’ office by security staff hired by his then-employer RSM Bird Cameron.

On April 5 the security staff allegedly passed the photos on to RSM executive Andrew Beck.

Mr Crisp claims that because of the photographs he was stripped of a $200,000 share in RSM’s profits and fired from his job on April 16. The defamation occurred when photos taken by Ms Fensom were viewed by other people.

Mr Crisp is claiming general damages and loss of income of $2.6 million.

This includes the difference between what he could have earned at RSM over the next 13 years and the $400,000 a year job he holds at Jirsch Sutherland.

In separate County Court proceedings, RSM last year alleged Mr Crisp transferred $500,000 in fees earned from an insolvency job into a personal bank account.

As this matter is sub judice care must be taken not to stray into speculation on how a case is pleaded, strengths and weaknesses etc.. That said it is interesting to see it pleaded in defamation.  It has been done in the past where there are privacy related issues in play.  In the UK such circumstances may very well be brought in equity with reliance on Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right to privacy.  In the UK the equitable action of misuse of private information has developed and become a more established cause of action and has dealt with the very personal situations such as is described in the article.  Even more useful would be a tort of privacy.  The law as it stands now involves stretching and straining existing causes of action to cover changes in technology, greater expectations of privacy and, to use the old fashoned but apt term, the justice in a situation.  With Giller v Procopets a claim of misuse of private information is available

Leave a Reply