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Posted Tuesday, November 3, 1998

Since Commission Admits Truth is No Defence...
Toben Walks out of Down-Under Hearing

From a Sydney Correspondent

SYDNEY, New South Wales, Nov. 1 -- Dr Fredrick Toben, chairman of the right-wing Adelaide Istitute, appeared today before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) in Sydney as Defendant in an action bought against him jointly by the Australian Council of Jewry (ACJ) and the B'nai Brith, the international masonic order.

The ACJ has complained that articles and statements posted on the Adelaide Institute website are defamatory, insulting and hurtful to the Jewish community.

Dr Toben visiting AuschwitzTwenty-five people attended the hearing. The ACJ was represented by Mr Jeremy Jones, Solicitor and Barristers Messrs Peter Wertheim and a Mr Rothman, and three other unidentified persons. Dr Toben had eight supporters in the room (including this correspondent) and there were several representatives of the press.

Dr Toben [right, visiting the Nazi Auschwitz camp] started the proceedings by trying to extract confirmation from the HREOC Commissioner, Ms. McEvoy, that truth could be used as a defence in these quasi-judicial proceedings. (Legal experts confirm that in normal defamation proceedings, truth is always a complete defence).

Commissioner McEvoy refused to give this assurance. The more Dr Toben pressed her, the more she ducked and side-stepped the issue.

Dr Toben than contended that "If truth is not a defence, then the Lie must prevail, and the proceedings must therefore be immoral." With that he walked out.

The outraged Solicitor for the ACJ, Wertheim, ran out into the lobby to confront Dr Toben, berating him that his whole family had been murdered in Krema 3 in Auschwitz (Mr Wertheim is about 45).

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp) television network ran a balanced report, including an interview with Dr Toben, on the evening television news. It is not known how this case will proceed; the ACJ may appeal the matter to the Federal Court of Australia, in which case Truth must be a defence, or they may choose to pursue the matter through the HREOC by way of written submissions.  

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