Teenager Abu Bakar Alam reportedly wins ‘record $500k payout’ after The Age wrongly branded him a terrorist
- Herald Sun
- March 09, 2015
FAIRFAX Media has reportedly paid out one of the largest defamation settlements in Australian media history for publishing a front-page story claiming an innocent teenager was a terrorist.
The maximum payout under the new defamation law is $366,000.
Fairfax wanted to quickly settle the case - one of several defamation suits - off its books without a lengthy and embarrassing trial.
Mr Alam slammed The Age for the “devastating” mistake which put his family in “potential danger”.
Mr Alam even feared he would not be able to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer after his picture was printed on the front of Fairfax newspapers last September.
“To have my face connected with an act of terrorism on the front pages of major Australian newspapers, and all over the internet, was devastating for me and my family,” Mr Alam said in a statement last week after the settlement was reached.
“This was a terrible mistake that damaged my reputation and my family’s good name. We were forced to defend ourselves against the worst kind of accusations while being placed in potential danger.”
Mr Alam came to Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee eight years ago and said his family had wanted to “escape terrorism” and “live in peace”.
In the paper’s front-page apology on March 4, Mr Holden said: “I have met with Mr Alam and he is an impressive young man. There is no question that he and his family had no association with Haider, or any terrorist activities. On behalf of The Age, I apologise again for the error that we made.”
Slater and Gordon defamation lawyer Jeremy Zimet described The Age’s mistake as “extremely defamatory”.
“Mr Alam was incorrectly associated with terrorism on the front pages of three prominent city newspapers, in two local newspapers, and on the internet,” Mr Zimet said.
The Age took the photo of Mr Alam from Facebook even though the teenager did not have a Facebook account.
“Budget cuts and a 24-hour news cycle undoubtedly put pressure on journalists and publishers,” Mr Zimet said.
“But that does not relieve media organisations of their obligation to ensure that the stories they publish are accurate - particularly around issues such as terrorism.”