Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple school principals and departmental officers bully classroom teachers into ill health and out of work.

NSW teacher Christine Mickle was defamed by a student on Twitter. She fought back.

An award of $105,000 has been made by a District Court Judge against former Orange High School student Andrew Farley.

Andrew had defamed Christine Mickle, an Orange High School music teacher, on Twitter.

Andrew's father had been the music teacher at the school.

Andrew's father, Mr Farley, was described as a "gentle man who had a number of health issues".

Ms Christine Mickle was appointed to the position vacated by Andrew's father on medical grounds.

Andrew wrongly asserted that Ms Mickle was somehow responsible for his father leaving the job.

Ms Mickle felt severely damaged in the eyes of her community.

She felt she could no longer teach.

She took sick leave and was only able to return to work on a limited basis in late 2013.

Ms Mickle fought courageously to defend her reputation, but her fight for truth and justice took a couple of years.

 

 

District Court Judge Elkaim said his impression of Ms Mickle in the witness box was 'of a very honest woman who had been terribly hurt both by the comments in general but perhaps more particularly by the suggestion that she may have been responsible for any harm, ill health or effect of any of her actions on the defendant's father."

There was evidence that, in the absence of the comments, Ms Mickle, a senior teacher, would have continued teaching as she had before "until she reached the age of 65, which is in about seven years' time."

Judge Elkaim ordered Andrew Farley to pay Ms Mickle $85,000 in compensatory damages.

He also noted that the young man's conduct in response to the case warranted an additional $20,000 in aggravated damages.

Andrew had ignored a letter from Ms Mickle's lawyers in November 2012.

He had removed his comments and apologised "unreservedly" only after Ms Mickle's lawyers wrote to him again in December.

 

 

If Andrew is pursued for the money he will go bankrupt and Ms Mickle will get nothing.

Even if Andrew pays, Christine Mickle's legal costs will be much higher than the awarded costs and there will not be much change from her $105,000.

 

Andrew did not appear at the trial to defend his case.

"I would hate for anyone else to go through what I have gone through. It has been truly terrible," he said.

 

 

Media law expert David Rolph, an associate professor at the University of Sydney Law School said : "This case just reinforces that even private individuals are subject to defamation law on social media and should be careful about what they say".

 

Lawsuit against schoolboy Andrew Farley for defamation on Twitter must act as deterrent , Crispin Hull. The Canberra Times, 8 March 2014

I'm not a troll : Man whose tweet cost $105,000 speaks out , Michaela Whitbourn, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 2014

The tweet that cost $105,000, Michaela Whitbourn , The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 March 2014.

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