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Australia Jack de Belin sues Telegraph for defamation over 'rapist' allegations

09:00  20 february  2020
09:00  20 february  2020 Source:   watoday.com.au

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Jack De Belin exchanges words with Cooper Cronk during an NRL match last year. De Belin has spent the past two months reporting to Wollongong Police Station twice a week - Mondays and Fridays - however his lawyer asked for the court to delete that condition on account of his need to travel with

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a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Jack de Belin outside Wollongong District Court earlier this month. © Kate Geraghty Jack de Belin outside Wollongong District Court earlier this month.

Suspended NRL player Jack de Belin has launched defamation proceedings against The Daily Telegraph over a front page story and tweet he says imply he is a rapist and a "despicable person".

In documents filed in the Federal Court in Sydney on Thursday, lawyers for de Belin seek damages, including aggravated damages, and legal costs for a story published on February 21 and headlined "Rub Out the Grubs: League Immortal draws line in sand on NRL shame."

The front page story featured an interview with Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and reported the former footballer "wants the NRL to bench stars charged by police during the code's summer of shame until their cases are heard by courts".

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NRL star Jack De Belin has reportedly hired Israel Folau's lawyers after he was stood down over allegations he raped a 19-year-old woman. According to the Daily Telegraph , he has assembled a new legal team including lawyer Tony Gooch of Macpherson Kelley. The firm is handling part of

Jack de Belin (born 17 March 1991) is an Australian professional rugby league footballer who has played in the 2010s. He played for the St. George Illawarra Dragons in the National Rugby League

"Meninga told The Daily Telegraph yesterday accused rapist Jack de Belin should be suspended immediately while he contests a rape charge and the NRL had to act on violence against women," the report said.

De Belin is also suing over a related tweet which linked to the story and said: "Kangaroos coach says NRL bad boys should be stood down from playing."

Lawyers for de Belin said the story and tweet defamed the suspended NRL player by suggesting he is "a rapist" and a "despicable person in that he raped a woman".

They say the story, which continued on pages four and five of the newspaper, also defamed him by suggesting that de Belin "so conducted himself by raping a woman that he deserved to miss out on being picked for the Australian rugby league team".

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Footy star Jack de Belin , 28, is hit with an upgraded sexual assault charge that could see him spend LIFE behind bars if found guilty of raping teenager. NRL star Jack de Belin (pictured on Wednesday) is facing life in jail after police laid more charges against De Belin and Sinclair deny the allegations .

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In May last year de Belin lost a Federal Court challenge to the Australian Rugby League Commission's no-fault stand-down rule, which sidelines players facing serious criminal charges until their cases are heard.

The Telegraph report, which referred to de Belin as an "accused rapist", was published before the suspension was announced.

De Belin and Shellharbour Sharks player Callan Sinclair were charged in December 2018 with the aggravated sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in a Wollongong apartment on December 9.

The men have pleaded not guilty to the charges and were initially expected to face a two-week jury trial starting on February 3.

On February 13 Wollongong District Court Judge Andrew Haesler adjourned pre-trial proceedings until April 8 to allow a witness, whose identity has been suppressed, to recover from an illness before giving evidence.

Judge Haesler has now foreshadowed that District Court scheduling issues may mean the trial will not begin before August.

De Belin's lawyers are also seeking an order that the story and tweet be "permanently removed" from the internet.

They seek aggravated damages on a range of bases, including that the Telegraph did not seek a response from de Belin prior to publication and allegedly presented the material in an "over-sensationalised manner noting the language, tone and production style", which indicated an "intent to injure" him.

The case has been assigned to Justice Anna Katzmann and the parties are due to appear in court for the first of a series of preliminary hearings on March 30.

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