The ACT Supreme Court. Photo: Graham Tidy
A sacked public servant has lost a defamation case for $505,448 against a human-resources director he said was responsible for his long-term unemployment.
Anthony Albert Twining was an executive assistant at the Australian Public Service Commission for five months in 2004 until he was sacked because he could not cope with the workload and had not met required standards of behaviour.
Mr Twining failed to land a job at Treasury in 2005 and applied for work with law firms unsuccessfully.
He has been jobless since and now undertakes volunteer work in NSW.
He launched the case in the ACT Supreme Court, claiming three statements made by Jacqueline Anne Curtis during his employment at the commission were behind his failure to find a job since leaving the public service.
Mr Twining alleged Ms Curtis had told his boss he had ''commented inappropriately'' to another employee about getting the job.
He also claimed Ms Curtis said he had a record of complaining.
Mr Twining said the malicious comments had caused supervisors to despise him and treat him unfairly.
He alleged this led to the loss of his job and the poor reference he was given.
But Master David Mossop threw out the case, finding there was no proof to support the claim of injurious falsehood. Master Mossop, in a judgment published last week, said he was not satisfied Ms Curtis made two of the alleged statements.
He said the remaining statement was not intended to be malicious and were part of her duties.
''I am not satisfied that the conduct of [Ms Curtis] in making the statement, or indeed any other statement, caused [Mr Twining] actual damage,'' Master Mossop wrote in the judgment.
''[Mr Twining] has not established any intention to cause, or reckless indifference to the possibility of, physical or psychiatric harm to [Mr Twining], the causing of harm to [Mr Twining] going beyond mere distress or the absence of justification or lawful excuse.''
Master Mossop found the statement did not cause any damage or financial loss.
''[Mr Twining] has not established that his termination was related to what was said by [Ms Curtis]," he wrote.
''I am not satisfied that [Mr Twining's] failure to obtain employment following the termination has been caused by the statements of [Ms Curtis].
''There was really no satisfactory explanation as to why [Mr Twining] was unable to obtain any employment after he was terminated.''