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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Tweed mayor alleges developer defamed her

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Tweed mayor Katie Milne has been removed from her mayoral role overseeing councillor expense claims after she tried to 'enhance accountability'.
Tweed mayor Katie Milne is suing billionaire developer Bob Ell for defamation.

A defamation action by Tweed mayor Katie Milne against the Tweed’s biggest developer was heard over several days in the Supreme Court in Sydney this week.

Billionaire developer Bob Ell, the owner of the Leda group behind the massive township developments of Kings Forest and Cobaki, is alleged to have made the defamatory remarks about Cr Milne published in the Gold Coast Bulletin soon after he won his defamation case against her.

The Supreme Court found in 2014 that Cr Milne had defamed Mr Ell in an email she sent alleging he had a scandalous association with a murdered Sydney hitman.

The developer was then awarded $15,000 damages, but the court costs for that protracted action, believed to be tens of thousands of dollars, are currently subject to further legal assessment and review by the court.

Echonetdaily was told the Greens mayor this week was cross-examined for more than seven hours by Mr Ell’s barrister.

Billionaire property developer Bob Ell, right, confers with his right-hand man Reg van Rij, centre, during the announcement by former lands minister Tony Kelly of approval for Leda’s Cobaki subdivision.
Billionaire property developer Bob Ell, right, confers with his right-hand man Reg van Rij, centre, during the announcement by former lands minister Tony Kelly of approval for Leda’s Cobaki subdivision.

Judgement has been reserved in the case, for which Mr Ell did not appear.

Mr Ell also did not appear for his own defamation case against Cr Milne in 2014 in which judge Lucy McCallum rejected allegations by his legal team that Ms Milne acted maliciously, suggesting instead her motives were public spirited.

In that case, Justice McCallum found Ms Milne had no improper motive for sending the email, headed ‘letter to the editor’, which she said was limited in extent of its publication.

‘On the contrary, the letter reads as a passionate plea for a broader community discussion of the topics of public interest identified in support of the defence,’ Justice McCallum had said in her judgment.

The $15,000 was appropriate, the judge said, given it was confined to damage to Mr Ell’s ‘presumed reputation with no component for distress or hurt to feelings’.

(The maximum award under the act for such damages is $355,500).

Cr Milne, elected mayor four months ago, could not be reached for comment this morning.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Squillionaire developer Ell is a serial litigator, ie, anyone who disgrees with his modus operandi is fair game. It is a game for him but he will bankrupt Katie and we would lose one of the most diligent and ethical councillors we have ever had.
    I hope she wins too.

  2. Milne is a disgrace. Spending her time on court cases instead of fixing the dysfunctional Tweed Shire Council.

    Her motives are nearly always ideological and she is opposed to development in parts of the Tweed that desperately needs it.

    Some of the development decisions of these councillors are also very suspect. How the hell did the apartments in Church lane get approved on that one way street?

    Why did the Woolies get knocked back when most residents want it to bring competition to the extremely busy Coles? I bet Milne doesn’t even shop at the Coles, because if she stepped foot in the place she would realise Murwillumbah needs another full line supermarket.

    If they approve that Coles service station on the Round House Tavern site, we know exactly how corrupt and ridiculous the councillors are.

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