The family of Quaden Bayles, a nine-year-old Indigenous boy with dwarfism, will receive close to $200,000 in damages plus legal costs after an agreement was reached with the News Corp columnist Miranda Devine, who had suggested he had faked his own bullying.
The federal court will be told on Friday the parties have reached a settlement and the high-profile Daily Telegraph columnist has apologised on Twitter.
Devine retweeted the Twitter user @bubblebathgirl, who claimed Quaden was an actor whose mother had posted a fake sobbing video and collected $300,000 in donations.
The columnist said: “That’s really rotten if this was a scam. Hurts genuine bullying victims.” Despite being told by theMedia Watch host, Paul Barry, and others, the claims were untrue she did not delete her tweets and said: “Typical of your sloppy research @therealpbarry. I never mentioned anything about age. Dishonest diversion.”
Devine linked to the 19 September Twitter apology from her online column in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday. It is understood the link was part of the settlement agreement. At the end of her column about Trump and the Supreme Court it said: “Miranda Devine’s Apology to the Bayles Family. My apology to the Bayles family can be found on my personal Twitter account http://twitter.com/mirandadevine.”
The settlement was reached after Justice Anna Katzmann found last month that Quaden had an arguable case that he had been defamed by Devine.
The case had been hampered by News Corp refusing to accept service on behalf of their columnist and an inability to serve the documents on Devine in person because she is in New York covering the US election.
According to the statement of claim News Corp said it was not responsible for Devine’s account which was “self-evidently a personal account and is published by Twitter”.
In February this year I posted some comments on my personal Twitter account about Quaden Bayles and his mother Yarraka. I now know those comments were hurtful and untrue. I sincerely apologise to the Bayles for those comments.— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) September 19, 2020
Katzmann will hold a remote case management hearing on Friday morning at which Devine, who is on secondment for 18 months to Murdoch’s the New York Post, will be represented by Susan Goodman of Holding Redlich.
Goodman told Guardian Australia her client’s matter was confidential and she could not comment.
News Corp did not respond to a request for comment.
The terms of the settlement will not be made public but Guardian Australia understands that Quaden and his mother, Yarraka Bayles, will each receive almost $100,000, with the child’s settlement to be held in trust until he is 18 and the rest to be used to care for the boy who has achondroplasia dwarfism.
It is unclear whether Devine or News Corp Australia will pay the damages and costs.
A video by the Brisbane boy’s mother made global headlines in February after Quaden cried about being bullied at school and urged her to “give me a knife, I’m going to kill myself”.
The clip – used by Yarraka to highlight the effects of bullying – was met with an outpouring of support.
“I’ve just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and I want people to know, parents, educators, teachers, this is the effect that bullying has,” Yarraka said in the video which went viral.
“Every single ... day, something happens. Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling. Can you please educate your children, your families, your friends?”
In February the Murri boy, who dreams of becoming a professional rugby player, walked on to the pitch with the players for an exhibition match in Queensland between Australia’s Indigenous All Stars, made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, and the New Zealand Māori.
Yarraka said Quaden was “going from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life” after the match.