Nationals MP awarded $900k for FB comments

Nationals MP Anne Webster has been awarded $900,000 damages from a woman who defamed her.
Nationals MP Anne Webster has been awarded $900,000 damages from a woman who defamed her.

A woman who defamed a Nationals MP by falsely claiming she was part of secret child abuse network must fork out nearly $900,000 in damages.

Karen Brewer made seven "disgraceful and inexplicable" Facebook posts and videos about Mallee MP Anne Webster, her husband Philip and the couple's Zoe Support charity for disadvantaged mums.

Federal Court Justice Jacqueline Gleeson said Brewer had branded the couple and their charity as "participants in a secretive criminal network ... involved in the sexual abuse of children".

The judge on Tuesday ordered Brewer pay the MP $350,000 in damages, her husband $225,000 and Zoe Support $300,000.

"It should have been obvious to Ms Brewer, at all relevant times and if she were capable of rational consideration on the subject, that her defamatory statements were wholly indefensible," Justice Gleeson said.

"Fortunately for the Websters, their long lives of decency and good deeds, coupled with the incoherence of much of Ms Brewer's messages, make it reasonably unlikely that any but the most suggestible individuals would think the less of them as a result of Ms Brewer's publications."

The judge also said Brewer had not explained her defamatory comments to the court, retracted them or apologised for the harm caused.

Australian Associated Press