Greens MP faces $1m court costs

LOCAL Greens MP Ian Cohen will have to pay more than $1 million in legal costs after he failed in a bid to appeal to the High Court a defamation ruling against him.

Mr Cohen heard yesterday his latest legal action had been thwarted.

“It went to the High Court and got the rejection from two judges of the High Court,” he said.

Earlier this year, Mr Cohen was ordered by the NSW Appeal Court to pay $15,000 in defamation damages after developer Jerry Bennette successfully overturned an earlier decision by the Supreme Court to rule in Mr Cohen’s favour. The Broken Head-based Upper House MP had hoped to overturn that ruling.

“To be quite honest, I wasn’t surprised. It’s only money and it doesn’t take away from the things I hold in high regard, like my friends and my values,” he said.

“I can still surf.”

The defamation case dates back to comments the MP made at two public meetings at Suffolk Park Progress Hall in 2001, staged to raise money for an environmental activist being sued at the time by Mr Bennette.

The costs amount to more than $1.015 million.

Mr Cohen said he was not sure if the bill would bankrupt him, but that he had some assets and would be looking to assistance from friends and his fledging cane toad fashion business.

“I believe history will judge that I did the right thing by my mates. The result of my case shows that community activism comes at a high price,” he said.

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