The federal medicines regulator has demanded Craig Kelly and the United Australia Party stop blanketing Australians with mass spam texts on COVID vaccines, which the health department believes are “seriously misleading” and a breach of copyright law.
But Mr Kelly says he will fight copyright breach allegations, accusing the TGA of “issuing a false media release” and alleging he himself has been defamed.
UAP leader, mining billionaire Clive Palmer, said he would “welcome” such a challenge from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, hinting the mass texts won’t stop.
The TGA has been considering legal action on the latest round of unsolicited messages from the UAP, which linked to a party website showing a representation of data from the health department. That data came from the TGA’s “database of adverse event notifications”, a list of incidents where a person had experienced ill health after receiving a COVID vaccine.
In a statement on Wednesday, confirming it had demanded Mr Kelly stop the texts, the TGA said the database “cannot be used to identify whether a medicine or a vaccine is safe or has caused the reported adverse event or not”. The regulator claimed the UAP’s use of the data was “seriously misleading”.
The TGA’s weekly summary of such health effects notes that it catalogs “adverse events following immunisation”, not necessarily caused by immunisation, stressing that “large-scale vaccination means that coincidentally some people will experience a new illness or die within a few days or weeks of vaccination”.
The TGA is concerned at the UAP’s representation of that data, which it claimed has removed caveats about how to interpret the figures, and has asked the party to “stop distributing incomplete extracts of adverse event reports”.
“Further investigation of any adverse event report by the TGA is necessary before it can be concluded to have been related to vaccination,” the TGA said on Wednesday.
“Statements emphasising this are included in the Database of Adverse Event Notifications and in reports that are generated from the database. The extracts disseminated by the United Australia Party excluded this important information at the beginning of the reports,” it added.
The TGA alleged that the UAP had “selectively taken” extracts from the database and sent that in text messages.
The regulator claimed the UAP had “removed important information about the reports”, as well as potentially breaching the TGA’s copyright by using the data.
The New Daily contacted the UAP for comment. In a written response, Mr Kelly claimed the legal letter he had received from the TGA’s lawyers did not convey any concerns about the texts being “misleading”, and made further accusations against the regulator.
“The TGA’s media release is defamatory and I’m seeking urgent legal advice, as it creates a defamatory imputation that is false, in particular the TGA media release alleges that the text message send is “serious misleading”, but the correspondence from Maddock Lawyers makes no reference to this point, contrary to the impressions they (falsely) create in their media release,” Mr Kelly told TND.
“To be clear, the correspondence I have received from Maddocks lawyers makes references only to an alleged copyright infringement and to state otherwise in any media report, would be to republish a false and defamatory statement.”
He said the other claims, which he slammed as a “frivolous copyright allegation” and “wasting taxpayers’ money”, would be “vigorously defended” by the UAP.
The TGA flagged the potential for legal action in recent days, which Mr Kelly and Mr Palmer had shrugged off.
On Monday, Mr Kelly tweeted “bring it on”, claiming his party had “a team of top-notch barristers salivating at the opportunity to get them in the dock and cross-examine” the TGA.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Mr Palmer said the UAP “welcomes legal threats from TGA”.
“The United Australia Party is a registered political party under the electoral act and @CraigKellyMP is member of the House of Representatives and therefore has the right of free political communication with all Australians,” the Twitter statement read.