'Cult' leader issues 'unreserved' apology to blogger
A MAN who was found by a Supreme Court jury to be the leader of a "socially harmful cult" has published an apology to the blogger he unsuccessfully sued for defamation.
Serge Benhayon, who founded Goonellabah-based "complementary health" business Universal Medicine, brought a defamation case against Esther Rockett in 2015.
After a lengthy 2018 trial, the Supreme Court jury found it was true to say Mr Benhayon was "a charlatan" who exploits UM followers through his "false and harmful teachings" and that UM "makes false claims about healing that cause harm to others".
A correction and apology to Ms Rockett has been published on three websites, including the official UM site that's registered in Mr Benhayon's name.
The apologies relate to articles suggesting Ms Rockett's claims about Mr Benhayon were baseless.
The note on Mr Benhayon's website said: "Serge Benhayon unconditionally withdraws any allegations in (a 2016 article) that Ms Rockett had knowingly made false accusations against him and his business Universal Medicine; that her complaints were baseless; that she was a liar; that she was a bully or "troll" who had engaged in a campaign of cyber abuse; that she had conducted a campaign of hate and published hate material about Universal Medicine; and that she had engaged in a campaign of religious persecution".
"Serge Benhayon unreservedly apologises to Ms Rockett for any hurt and offence caused by the article and has now removed the article from publication," the apology read.
On a website titled Universal Medicine Facts, a similar apology is the only content still available.
In that apology, the administrators of the site, including Alison Greig, Jonathan Baldwin, Desiree Delaloye, Ray Karam and Isabella Benhayon, apologise to Ms Rockett.
Mr Karam ran as an independent candidate for the federal seat of Richmond earlier this year.
Another apology related to articles by Simon Asquith and Dr Rachel Hall was published on a website titled The Truth About Serge Benhayon.
Ms Rockett said when she "exposed material about Universal Medicine, criticised their behaviours and posed questions to UM's promoters" the group responded by attacking her character and the character of others who criticised them.
"In my opinion UM did not satisfactorily address any of the concerns we raised about their operations and behaviours," Ms Rockett said.
"The retraction of the allegations made against me may be the closest thing we get to UM making any public acknowledgement of the court's findings of fact."