Meryl Dillon, Rumor Monger: Douchebag of the Day Award

Our Douchebag of the Day award was originally intended for men with douchbaggery behavior but this time around we can’t help but give the award to a woman. Meryl Dillon of Australia, congratulations for winning our Douchebag of the Day Award. We are giving this award to Meryl because her rumor-mongering destroyed the lives of two people and ran up legal bills amounting to Aus$ 1 million that taxpayers must now pay.

The details of Meryl’s douchebaggery from from the Sydney Morning Herald:

New South Wales taxpayers are facing up to $1 million in legal bills after a landmark court case found that a woman on a State Government board had defamed two of her colleagues by saying they were having an affair.

Three-time Labor candidate Meryl Dillon had her legal costs covered by the Government while the people she defamed were refused the same protection, even though they were all connected to the same board.

The Government said it is standard practice to help board members who are sued “while acting in their official capacity” and insists Mrs Dillon’s Labor credentials are irrelevant.

Now that she has lost the case, taxpayers will have to cover the massive legal bills of both sides – a result that has enraged the Opposition and seen the case referred to the corruption watchdog.

Last week District Court judge Michael Elkaim, SC, found Mrs Dillon had acted out of malice and not genuine concern for the reputation of the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority when she told its chairman, James Croft, that board member Les Boland and then-general manager Amanda Cush were having an affair.

The judge said Mrs Dillon’s case was damaged because she had passed the gossip to others before she spoke to Mr Croft. She told Mr Croft of the rumour without trying to find out if it was true and despite the fact that she did not believe it.

“I accept that her relations with the plaintiffs may not have been conducive to such an approach but, nevertheless, she made the bald statement to Mr Croft without any qualification as to its lack of proof,” Judge Elkaim said.

A jury had already decided Mrs Dillon had defamed Mr Boland, a farmer, and Ms Cush, who later lost her job over unrelated matters, when she spoke to Mr Croft. Judge Elkaim had to decide whether she was protected by qualified privilege – that is, if she was properly carrying out her duties as a board member by informing the chairman.

But he decided her actions were malicious and awarded $5000 each in damages to Mr Boland, now 64, and Ms Cush, now 39. They said Mrs Dillon’s revelation had had a devastating impact on their lives.

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