Mayor Mick Curran and CEO Bernard Smith.
Mayor Mick Curran and CEO Bernard Smith. Renee Albrecht

Gympie Facebook page refuses to shut down

UPDATE: THE administrator of a Gympie Facebook page which is highly critical of the CEO and Mayor of Gympie Regional Councillor has defied a solicitor's "cease and desist” demand that the page be shut down by 5pm today.

Page administrators received the letter from Brisbane based solicitors MinterEllison on Monday night, outlining numerous alleged defamatory posts made on the site and requesting that it be pulled down by 5pm or face possible legal action, including the pursuit of damages and costs.

It is now after 5pm and the page is still up. It has even gained a handful of new members today, taking its membership to 841 at last count.

The solicitor's letter was posted in full on the page last night, and says "a Facebook page and a webpage are not the appropriate forums to have any of your grievances address, and to make unfounded accusations against GRC and it staff”.

"The continued publication of the material and the imputations conveyed in the material have an impact on the business operations and reputation of the GRC along with the reputation and ability of the named staff including Mr Smith and Mr Curran to enjoy the peace, comfort and privacy that they are entitled to,” it says.

Cr Glen Hartwig today expressed his "surprise” at the decision to send the letter on behalf of the council without first consulting the whole council.

"I think I would be right to say I was surprised,” he said.

”Given that there is a council meeting on Wednesday it seems highly feasible that this action could have been delayed until it was brought before the full council.

"I don't understand why there was such a necessity to rush this through.”

"In the process of good governance I would have thought such a matter would have been raised for approval by the whole of council before action was taken,” he said.

Site administrator Kathy Little Walker was not saying much today.

(If I was to say anything) I would be acknowledging that I have received a letter and I find it very interesting,” she said.

Gympie Regional Council was approached for comment, but had not responded at time of this article being published.

EARLIER:

Gympie Regional Councillor Glen Hartwig has expressed his "surprise” at the decision to send a solicitor's letter of behalf of the council threatening legal action if a Gympie Facebook page is not shut down by 5pm today.

"I think I would be right to say I was surprised,” he said today.

The Facebook page, which is highly critical of the council, particularly of Mayor Mick Curran and CEO Bernard Smith, must be pulled down by 5pm today or face possible defamation action from the council, including the pursuit of damages and costs.

Cr Hartwig says the decision to send the letter was not a "whole of council” decision, though the solicitors MinterEllison clearly state that they "act for Gympie Regional Council”.

"In the process of good governance I would have thought such a matter would have been raised for approval by the whole of council before action was taken,” he said.

There is still no word from administrators of the site as to whether they plan to shut down or not.

PREVIOUSLY:

THERE has been no response yet from administrators of a Gympie Facebook page facing legal action if they do not shut down by 5pm today.

The page was set up earlier this year and is highly critical of Gympie Mayor Mick Curran and CEO Bernard Smith.

The solicitor's letter demanded it be shut down by 5pm or face action through the courts, including the pursuit of damages and costs for defamation.

Head administrator Kathy Little Walker, a former Gympie businesswoman, has yet to decide whether or not she will close the page.

Some of the 835 members who have commented on the letter today have urged her to hold her ground and, not surprisingly, have been highly critical of the legal action.

The solicitor's letter outlines numerous examples of alleged defamatory posts on the page and webpage.

EARLIER:

GYMPIE Regional Council has moved to shut down a Gympie Facebook page because of alleged repeated defamatory accusations made there about CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran.

Administrator of the site, Kathy Little Walker, received a solicitor's letter last night demanding the Facebook page and webpage be pulled down by 5pm today (Tuesday) and that she cease and desist from making such allegations in a public forum.

Failure to pull the page down could lead to legal action to pursue damages and costs, the letter from MinterEllison lawyers in Brisbane states.

The page has 835 members and three administrators though Mrs Little Walker is the face of the site.

She has this morning asked her members for advice on what to do.

The solicitor's letter lists multiple examples of defamatory posts made on the site and states "a Facebook page and a webpage are not the appropriate forums to have any of your grievances address, and to make unfounded accusations against GRC and it staff”.

"The continued publication of the material and the imputations conveyed in the material have an impact on the business operations and reputation of the GRC along with the reputation and ability of the named staff including Mr Smith and Mr Curran to enjoy the peace, comfort and privacy that they are entitled to,” it says.

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