Book to be pulped after mistaken identity defamation

A book on a corruption scandal in New South Wales has been withdrawn from bookshelves, and is likely to be pulped—because it accused the wrong “Chris Brown” of corruption. The Chris Brown who was mistakenly identified is suing for defamation. Crikey reported that one Melbourne bookshop had removed the book from shelves, but when their journalist enquired about it, “the extremely helpful staff thought the store must be in the process of re-stocking and fetched the book out of a box behind the counter and handed it straight to [me].” Under the Defamation Act 2005 (Vic), bookshops are protected by the defence of innocent dissemination if they inadvertently distribute defamatory material; however, that only applies if they “neither knew, nor ought reasonably to have known, that the matter was defamatory”. Continuing to sell the book after it has been recalled could expose the bookshop to liability.