Blogger's lawyer defends 'Rolf Harris' comment
By Sam McKeith
A BLOGGER being sued for defamation by Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon did not liken the spiritual healer to disgraced musician Rolf Harris, a court has been told.
Esther Rockett, a former Universal Medicine client and acupuncturist, has been defending the defamation action against her in the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney at a four-person jury trial.
The action arises out of Mr Benhayon, a 54-year-old tennis coach turned spiritual healer, claiming Ms Rockett defamed him on a blog and in a series of tweets, starting in 2014.
Ms Rockett has pleaded a range of defences at the trial, now in its fourth week, including truth and honest opinion.
In his closing argument on Tuesday, defence barrister Tom Molomby, QC, defended Ms Rockett mentioning Mr Harris on her blog, saying it was part of "drawing attention to her own position as a victim".
"She's talking about the behaviour of his victims ... she's not saying Serge Benhayon behaved like Rolf Harris," Mr Molomby told the court.
"That's what she's focusing on."
Mr Molomby described the case as "complicated" and urged the jury to decide according to what an "ordinary reader" would make of the blog and tweets.
"You're being asked how any ordinary reader would have read them," he said.
"It's very important that anything that's in an imputation actually has a proper foundation."
He suggested to the jury that while Ms Rockett referred to a "sleazy ovarian reading" with Mr Benhayon, she never said that he indecently touched her.
"It never says that he touched her ... it never says what actually happened," Mr Molomby said.
He also took issue with the claim that Ms Rockett had labelled Mr Benhayon as "delusional", arguing that the term was "not actually aimed" at the North Coast-based healer.
The defence barrister also disputed the plaintiff's use of the phrases "pedophile", "groped", "abhorrent person" and "inferiority of women".
Ms Rockett has previously given evidence at the trial that she never wanted to go near Mr Benhayon again after a 2005 "ovarian reading" with him.
Mr Benhayon, a former bankrupt, has previously said that he felt "raped" by the accusations made against him online.
The plaintiff's closing argument is expected to start on Wednesday.
The trial continues before Justice Julia Lonergan.