Federal Labor MP Terri Butler has issued a public apology to a Queensland student to settle a lawsuit stemming from her comments about his involvement in a racial discrimination case on the ABC’s Q&A program.
In an appearance on the show in November, Ms Butler repeated allegations Queensland University of Technology law student Calum Thwaites had used the words “ITT N*****s” in a Facebook post, which had been the subject of a racial discrimination case.
But in a post on her website on Friday, Ms Butler acknowledged the Federal Court had accepted Mr Thwaites’ assertion he had been a victim of identity theft and wasn’t responsible for the post.
“Your legal representative, Mr Morris QC, has described you as a victim of malicious identity theft or a prank, which I accept,” Ms Butler said.
“There should be no suggestion that you were responsible for the Facebook post, or that your denial was anything other than the truth.”
“Equally, there should be no suggestion that you are racist, or bigoted.
“I offer you my unreserved apology for enabling those meanings about you to be conveyed, and for the distress and damage to your reputation caused as a consequence.”
Ms Butler issued a public apology to Mr Thwaites on her website on Thursday.
Ms Butler said she had agreed to make a “modest payment” to Mr Thwaites to cover his legal costs, which will reportedly be between $5000 and $10,000.
Mr Thwaites launched a $150,000 lawsuit against Ms Butler following the program and had already rejected one apology from the Member for Griffith as a no more than a “self-serving and paltering piece of political spin”.
The university student was part of a trio sued by university admin officer Cindy Prior, an Aboriginal woman, under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act for allegedly racist Facebook posts.
Federal Court Judge Michael Jarrett has dismissed the case and ordered Ms Prior to pay $200,000 of the students’ legal costs.
She is attempting to appeal the decision.