Former MP Who Wrote Erotic Fiction ‘Sky Warriors’ Launches Defamation Suit
A former Liberal MP's reputation was damaged when news stories about an unpublished book he'd written implied he was a "purveyor of smut", his lawyer has argued in a Perth court.
Dennis Jensen, who was the member for Tangney for 12 years, took defamation action against Nationwide News and journalist Andrew Burrell over two articles that appeared in The Australian over two days in 2016.
The first article centred on a fiction Jensen wrote before he entered politics, Sky Warriors, about a crazed Indonesian dictator who started war with Australia, aided by China, and contained graphic sex scenes.
Jensen's legal counsel Martin Bennett told a Supreme Court of Western Australia jury on Monday the article, headlined "MP's novel approach to foreign relations bound to get people steamed up" was attention grabbing, sensational and "gotcha" in tone.
He said choice examples had been selected for excerpts to give the impression his client was a "purveyor of smut" while the mention of him being backed by the evangelical Christian right suggested he was a hypocrite.
The article revealed Jensen had used his parliamentary letterhead to pitch the novel to publishers in 2007 when he was on the Joint Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, writing his authorship of the controversial material "must be a closely guarded secret".
Bennett said the imputation was Jensen had misused his position as an MP to try to get a book deal.
The second article headlined "New chapter as Jensen leaves family home" revealed he had divorced, moved out of the electorate and lived with his new partner some 60km away.
The imputation here, Bennett said, was Jensen had abandoned his electorate and family.
"We think it's clear your impression would have to be distasteful," the lawyer said.
Defence counsel Tom Blackburn said the articles may have been unflattering but Bennett's characterisation of them was over the top.
"A fair-minded person is not going to get these ultra-judgmental imputations," Blackburn said.
Both articles noted Jensen's grip on Tangney had been tenuous -- he twice lost pre-selection but former prime minister John Howard and the state council intervened.
The reports came days before the former physicist was dumped as the 2016 candidate for Tangney.
Jensen has publicly admitted he shouldn't have used the letterhead.
The trial continues.