A KINGSTON councillor is appealing a defamation ruling made against him last year.
In September 2022, Councillor Cameron Howe was ordered to pay property developer Sam Zuchowski $205,000. The ruling was made over comments made by third parties on Howe’s Carrum and Patterson Lakes Forum Facebook page.
Howe is applying to the Supreme Court of Victoria for leave to appeal the defamation ruling.
Sam Zuchowski is the managing director of Cavendish, which oversees development of the Patterson Lakes marina precinct. The Victorian County Court assessed ten publications during the defamation hearing last year – some of the comments questioned Zuchowski’s character and the integrity of decisions made within the Endeavour Cove precinct (“Councillor ordered to pay over Facebook comments” The News 12/10/22). The comments were not made by Howe himself, but were made on the Facebook page that he administered.
In addition to appealing the defamation ruling, Howe is calling for social media defamation laws in Australia to be reformed. “Social media defamation reform is overdue, particularly on the question of liability for third party comments on Facebook, and our appeal impacting everyday Australians is of national interest,” he said.
“Our appeal also allows media companies involved in the original High Court verdict to reload again, should they wish to participate in a potential historical turning point.”
Last year Howe also sued Amber Zuchowski over comments made as the development manager of Cavendish at a Kingston Council meeting. He was awarded damages of $15,000 against Cavendish, with Amber Zuchowski jointly liable for $10,000.