Australian Anti-Paedophile Party sued for accusing man of paedophilia
- Category: Australian Antipaedophile Party
- Created: Sunday, 15 May 2016 07:29
- Written by Rachel Olding - Sydney Morning Herald
A regional doctor who founded the Australian Anti-Paedophile Party is being sued by a man who claims he has been falsely branded a paedophile.
William Russell Massingham Pridgeon, a Grafton GP, set up the political party last year and wrote on its website he had turned to politics as a last resort after trying desperately to protect his wife's son from what he claims is his biological father's paedophilia.
The party's seven candidates are contesting the federal election but their efforts have been derailed after the biological father, Howard Furner, launched defamation proceedings in the Supreme Court.
Howard Furner, pictured in 2013, is suing the founder of the Australian Anti-Paedophile Party for implying he is a "sinister and very effective paedophile". Photo: Supplied
Mr Furner was not named on the Australian Anti-Paedophile Party's website but Dr Pridgeon made references to him by describing his despair and frustration after the boy was not removed from his father's care.
In a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court, Mr Furner argued that anyone who knew he was the father of Dr Pridgeon's wife's son and knew that the three adults had been involved in disputes over the boy would have known that the website material was about him.
Mr Furner has not been charged with sexual abuse offences and said the accusations were false.
Dr William Russell Pridgeon, founder of the Australian Anti-Paedophile Party, leaves the Supreme Court on Friday. Photo: Peter Rae
He argued that Dr Pridgeon's website defamed him by implying he was "a very sinister and effective paedophile".
On Friday, Dr Pridgeon's lawyer, Bill Kalantzis, told the Supreme Court a defence would be filed within six weeks.
Dr Pridgeon and Mr Kalantzis declined to comment.
Mr Furner is also suing a Grafton newspaper over an interview they published with Dr Pridgeon that mentioned his personal experience of dealing with child sexual abuse.
The AAPP was founded as a single-issue political party with aims of strengthening child sex abuse legislation, increasing penalties for paedophiles and launching a royal commission into child protection services and the Family Court.
Dr Pridgeon has removed some of the information from his website. On the site, he said he was left feeling powerless and traumatised after navigating the system and felt that parliamentarians lacked the will or the courage to act on child abuse.
"Each story that I hear of is as horrific as all the others," he wrote.
Derryn Hinch, the former radio shock jock turned anti-paedophile campaigner, said campaigning against sexual abusers could be a minefield.
Mr Hinch has been jailed twice for naming paedophiles in contravention of court suppression orders and he launched the Justice Party in October, with a view to winning a Senate seat in Victoria.
He said Dr Pridgeon's "heart was in the right place" and his party was "trying to do some good stuff".
"In this business, you've got to be very careful," he said. "I'm very cognisant of making sure information is accurate. The people I've been to jail over have been convicted sex offenders."