The owners of a Brisbane restaurant are suing the SBS for defamation after it broadcast a segment which labelled their restaurant ‘offensive’ and racist.
Mark & Angela Kennedy opened The British Colonial Co at Hawthorne in June 2016, marketing it as “inspired by the stylish days of the imperial promise of adventure and refinement in a safari-style setting.”
Two months later, the SBS featured a video on their YouTube channel, SBS Vice, which slammed the restaurant for glorifying “a colonial past as something beautiful, luxurious, exotic, when in fact colonisation was none of those things.”
The video prompted a backlash against the restaurant on social media, causing public outcry against its ‘gross racism’.
In papers lodged with the Southport District Court last month, the couple claim’s that the publication implied they “sought financial gain at the expense and suffering of others” and that they “supported the bloody history of colonisations”.
They assert SBS’ allegations were “extravagant and sensational”, harmful to their reputation and ultimately forced the closure of their business.
Contending the publication has rendered them liable to “public ridicule, hatred and contempt”, they are suing for reputational and aggravated damages as well as a loss of income. They have specified in their claim they do not wish the matter to be heard before a jury.
Queensland law specifies that defamation damages are capped at $250 000. However, a judge may adjust this figure where aggravated damages are warranted.
As Queensland Law does not mandate a cap on aggravated damages and the business damages may be large, it is not yet known the precise sum that will be claimed by the owners when the dispute comes before the court.