In December 2004, forestry giant Gunns Ltd sued Bob Brown, The Wilderness Society and eighteen other environmentalists as a result of the campaign to protect Tasmania’s forests. During the next five years, Gunns suffered a series of legal losses and capitulated against many of the defendants, paying them over $1m in costs. It was left with an expensive rump of a case against a handful of defendants.
This is the inside story of the defence of the Gunns 20 case, and of a number of other similar, but no less dangerous, law suits.
In a personal account of more than a decade defending so-called “SLAPP suits” over the Hindmarsh Island bridge, battery hens and the Tasmanian forests, “bush lawyer” Greg Ogle tells the history of the cases and their impact on the defendants and the community. This passionate portrayal illustrates the effect of such litigation on free speech and political protest, and makes an eloquent call for law reform to ensure that these incursions on civil liberties never happen again.