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Spurr’s spar with New Matilda ends in draw

The Federal Court battle between Barry Spurr and New Matilda was today settled out of court, ending the action with an undertaking by New Matilda not to publish any further emails.

Photoshop of Barry Spurr outside Courthouse For those playing at home, this is a photoshop

Alexi Polden and Peter Walsh had front row seats in an empty courtroom.

The Federal Court battle between Barry Spurr and New Matilda was today settled out of court, ending the action with an undertaking by New Matilda not to publish any further emails.

Court documents obtained by Honi Soit reveal that Spurr initially took action to identify the person behind the leaked emails, and to compel New Matilda to take down the emails they had already published. Spurr had also sought to compel New Matilda to detail the emails they had access to, and the location and identity of all computers or devices on which they had been saved.

Although the exact terms of the settlement are confidential, at the time of publication, the emails and story were still available on New Matilda’s website. New Matilda’s managing editor, Chris Graham, could confirm that the anonymity of the source had been protected. The settlement seems to maintain the injunction obtained by Spurr on the 21st of October, preventing New Matilda from publishing further emails, or disclosing the identity of the person with whom Spurr was corresponding.

Although Spurr had not previously commented on the case, his lawyer, John Laxon has told Honi that Spurr is happy with the settlement. Laxon is also representing Spurr in an ongoing matter against the University of Sydney in the Fair Work Commission. Honi understands from court documents that Spurr was suspended on full pay on the 17th of October, and has claimed that decision lacked procedural fairness. The University could not comment on the ongoing matter.

Graham, who was also happy with the settlement, ended his discussion with Honi with a message to other small publications: “if you are going to embark on vigorous journalism, you’re going to need some equally vigorous lawyers behind you”.

 

UPDATE: Barry Spurr has now resigned from the University of Sydney

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

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