Federal Court hears Mark Latham's tweet 'went as low as possible' as independent MP Alex Greenwich sues the former One Nation leader

The origin of this defamation case took place a couple of days before the NSW state election last year, when there was violence directed towards LGBT protesters who had gathered outside a Sydney church where Mark Latham was speaking. Now Alex Greenwich, the independent Sydney MP, had given comments for a newspaper story about the church incident in which he described Mark Latham as a disgusting human being. The tweet by Mr. Latham, which is at the centre of this case, was replying to that statement by Alex Greenwich. The ABC has chosen not to republish the full tweet, but in part it read disgusting. How does that compare with? And then it went on to use explicit terms to describe sexual activity. Now, Mr. Greenwich alleges the tweet, as well as subsequent comments Mr. Latham gave to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, caused him serious reputational harm, both professionally and personally. He says that the material implied that he engages in disgusting sexual activities, is not fit to be a member of Parliament and goes into schools to groom children to become gay. Now Mr. Greenwich's counsel, Matt Collins QC, has given an opening address today and he's told the court that his client, in giving his comments to the newspaper first, was engaging in public debate about the church incident. But in reply, Mark Latham went as low as possible. Doctor Collins said Mr. Latham knowingly and deliberately played upon two very tired stereotypes, including that gay men are somehow depraved and cannot be trusted around children. Alex Greenwich is now in the witness box and he's under cross examination by Mr. Latham's council. So far he's been getting a lot of questions about whether his initial comments about Mark Latham were provocative statements to make just before an election campaign was about to finish. In response to that, Alex Greenwich has disagreed and he has said that he believed that he was giving an appropriate assessment of the situation as he saw it at the time. Mark Latham has raised several defences as part of this case, including qualified, privileged public interest and honest opinion.

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