Victorian barrister Dyson Hore-Lacy has been awarded $630,000 in damages after a Supreme Court jury found that former MP Phil Cleary had defamed Hore-Lacy in his book Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of Julie Ramage's Death.
Cleary's book, published by Allen & Unwin, focused on the 2003 killing of Julie Ramage by her estranged husband and the subsequent trial of Ramage on a murder charge.
Hore-Lacy claimed the book suggested that he had manufactured a defence of provocation for James Ramage and that he had done this in combination with a solicitor, Stephen Pica, and therefore perverted the course of justice and committed an act of professional misconduct.
After a deliberation of five hours, a jury of six women found that Hore-Lacy had been defamed and awarded $600,000 in compensatory and aggravated damages, plus $30,000 in exemplary damages.
Commenting to reporters outside the court yesterday, Hore-Lacy mentioned that Cleary and Allen & Unwin refused an offer to settle the case. "We made a formal offer to settle for $50,000 plus an apology about four or five years ago. All I was ever really interested in was an apology and a retraction, and they refused to do it," he said.
Cleary said the verdict was disappointing and that "it wasn't the way I believe the book should be read".