Apology clears Slatter
GYMPIE Turf Club, local government and business identity Spencer Slatter yesterday welcomed the settlement of defamation action he took against Sunshine Coast resident and now senior councillor Vivien Griffin.
Ms Griffin published a retraction and apology at the weekend over articles published in the Gympie Life newspaper.
Ms Griffin has admitted the articles wrongly accused Mr Slatter of secretly influencing Cooloola Shire council to obtain an inappropriate land use change for his own profit.
They also wrongly accused him of using suspect means to speed up council approval of a subdivision, to save roadwork costs of about $267,000 and said that, as developer, he had received “a financially generous, but highly suspect, subdivisional approval”.
In her advertisement, Ms Griffin acknowledged that Mr Slatter “did not seek to influence council in relation to the subdivision” and was not the owner or the developer of the land.
A spokesperson for Mr Slatter yesterday said the apology could have been made much earlier.
“During the course of the litigation it appeared that Ms Griffin possessed information that Mr Slatter was not the applicant for the development approval, before writing the article. Nevertheless the article asserted that he was the developer.
“He requested an apology and retraction of the article before he resorted to legal action (but) instead there was a further article published in the Gympie Life newspaper that he felt made very personal attacks.”
Mr Slatter said: “Unfortunately mud sticks and it was evident to me that many people had read the articles and formed a negative opinion of me which I found distressing then and still do.”
His spokesperson said it had taken more than two years to obtain the apology, but Mr Slatter felt it was worth the effort and expense.
“He believes that there will be people who have read those articles but unfortunately won’t read this article and sadly their perception of him will remain negative,” the spokesperson said.
“He said that it was unfortunate that anyone can have their reputation tarnished in this manner but he did want to sincerely thank the community members who were prepared to give evidence in his support.”
Ms Griffin said the issue was a legal matter and she did not intend to make any comment.