Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:
ACC Minister Nick Smith has asked for an urgent report after it emerged that a senior ACC doctor is suing a sexual abuse victim for $250,000.
Ms Sepuloni asked Health Minister Tony Ryall, who was standing in for Dr Smith, if the ACC minister would investigate.
“Does he think fair treatment includes a senior medical adviser at ACC, Dr Peter Jansen, suing an ACC claimant, a victim of sexual abuse, for $250,000 for speaking her mind on a blog about the appalling treatment of sexual abuse victims under his watch?” she asked.
Jax says her blog has only 15 followers. “So let me see if I get this straight … a blog of 15 followers has done more than $250,000 worth of damage to a man who has never granted a single woman seeking compensation for sexual abuse a mere percentage of that amount?”
I don’t know how many followers Jax has, but what she may be over-looking is that if you google “Peter Jansen”, her blog comes up high on the first page of results. This means anyone searching for info on him, will probably see her blog.
I also note that Jax has blogged many many times or Dr Jansen. One of her comments is:
I am not stupid or dumb. Dr Peter Jansen who implemented these “INHUMANE” changes is hoping if he makes things too damn hard we’ll either go away or kill ourselves like two people I know already …
Accusing someone of hoping that claimants will kill themselves is pretty highly defamatory (in my opinion) unless one can prove it to be true. Some of her other comments are as bad.
Jax has every right to rail against ACC. But she would be better to attack the organisation, not individuals within it. It is not totally surprising that Dr Jansen has responded with a lawsuit.
While the lawsuit is not surprising, it is ill-advised in my opinion. The publicity from the lawsuit will result in many many more people knowing about the comments, potentially increasing the damage to Dr Jansen.
Also Dr Jansen may have overlooked that people are quite good at putting things into context. I doubt many NZers would jump to a conclusion about Dr Jansen, just because of the criticisms made by Jax on her blog. It’s not the Lancet. It’s one disaffected person’s opinion.
If I sued for every defamatory comment made about me online, I’d be in court at least once a week.
A possible compromise here might be that Jax refers to Dr Jansen only by title (removing her blog from google searches on his name) and he drops the lawsuit. I don’t know either of them, and they don’t know me, so I doubt my 2c of opinion is of any consequence. if it does go to court, it will at least be an interesting court case.
UPDATE: Dr Jansen has issued a statement:
“It is my belief, supported by independent legal advice, that I have been defamed. All that I am seeking is for the offending comments to be withdrawn and for a public apology to be issued. Money has never been an issue, this is about my professional reputation. If that redress is provided, I will of course halt the legal action that I have initiated as a private citizen.”
Dr Jansen also categorically denies the accusation made by Carmel Sepuloni MP in the House yesterday that he “accessed private information about a victim of sexual abuse and used it to initiate legal action”. He has asked the Chief Executive of ACC to initiate a review of the Corporation’s records to confirm this.