Australia to sue over online bullying crackdown
The Australian Federal Police will sue the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over the country’s online bullying laws, the Federal Court has heard.
In a case that will be heard by Justice Michael Fenech on Wednesday, the AFP will seek damages for its alleged “fraudulent and unlawful conduct” against a group of individuals in the UK.
The group, which includes three members of the British Parliament, were the victims of a campaign by the AFP that was “targeted” by the group and which they said caused them to “fall victim to harassment, humiliation and abuse”.
The group’s barrister, Paul Brown, told the court the AFP’s actions constituted “an unlawful and fraudulent act of intimidation, and an attempt to prevent the group from reporting to Parliament, or to pursue a remedy for the harm they have suffered”.
The case was brought against the AFP and the Commonwealth of Australia after a complaint was made by the British parliamentarians.
It is one of a number of cases that the AFP is pursuing in the US over its crackdown on online abuse.
The AFP has also launched a lawsuit in the Federal Circuit, in Texas, against a former AFP commissioner, Peter Lewis, over the organisation’s handling of complaints.
The case is being heard by a Federal Court judge, and is expected to last about six weeks.
Mr Brown told the Court the AFP had a “robust legal and professional team” and had sought to use its “great resources” to respond to the allegations.
Mr Lewis was not at the hearing.
The Federal Court will decide whether the AFP can recover the money it spent to defend itself in the civil case, and if so, how much.