ACCA vindicated in defamation case

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

 

 Patron        Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC 
                    Governor of New South Wales

 

ACCA vindicated in defamation case

 

In July 2016, ACCA commenced defamation action against eight of its members when they failed to make an offer to make amends, after receiving letters of demand from its solicitors. The members were Anthony (Tony) Pun, Maggie Wu, Daphne Lowe, Peter Wong, Maria Chan, Phil Chau, Man Yee Leanfore, and Min Xian Huang. ACCA took legal action to protect its reputation, particularly as it receives significant government funding to deliver aged care and community programs.

 

The eight defendants had, in June 2015, written to a senior Federal Member of Parliament (MP) containing serious allegations against the ACCA Board and management, in particular allegations about the misappropriation of funds, malpractices, poor governance, harassment, and bullying. Shortly afterwards emails under pseudonyms were sent to Members of Parliament, Australian and overseas media organizations, and members of ACCA among many others. These emails appeared to contain statements that resembled the statement made in the letter sent to the senior MP.  ACCA contended the real authors of the emails were some of the defendants themselves or the very least the same people were responsible for its circulation.  The defendants denied this.

 

In addition, two of the defendants Anthony Pun and Maggie Wu had written to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) with similar allegations of impropriety on the part of the ACCA Board and management. As a result the DOH carried out an intensive investigation into the affairs of ACCA from July to September 2015. In October 2015 the DOH cleared ACCA of any wrong doings.

 

Following a mediation in September 2017, three defendants (Lowe, Wong, and Leanfore) withdrew all allegations and issued a letter of regret. The other terms of the settlement are confidential and not to be disclosed.

 

As for the remaining five defendants (Pun, Wu, Chan, Chau, and Huang), they persisted with their defences and, as a result, ACCA continued with its action against them.

 

On 26 June 2019 at a second mediation, a settlement was reached between the five defendants and ACCA.  The five defendants agreed and proceeded to pay some damages and legal costs to ACCA as well as issuing a letter of regret and withdrawal of all allegations made in the letter to the MP.

 

ACCA is happy that it has been vindicated.  The legal proceedings have come to a conclusion and that ACCA can now focus fully on serving its many members and clients. ACCA would also like to thank its members and staff for their enduring support during this time.

 

 

Eric Wu

President

On behalf of the Board

5 August 2019