18.2 C
Byron Shire
September 23, 2023

Council candidates support website attacking ‘cyber bully’

Latest News

The war on cats

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek marked National Threatened Species Day by 'declaring war on feral cats'. She wants to give...

Other News

Jali Land Council accused of land grab

Around 80 residents of Cabbage Tree Island, just south of Wardell, say they want to return home after the 2022 floods, but the Local Aboriginal Land Council, Jali, have other ideas.

The Chinny Charge run on a perfect day

Jack Gill was the first past the post at Saturday's run up Mt Chincogan for this year's Chinny Charge.

Woman charged over alleged armed robbery – Tweed Heads

A woman will appear in court today charged over the alleged armed robbery of a man at Tweed Heads earlier this week.

Complete the rail trail

The Byron Shire Council’s recent decision to approve the proposed rail trail on the abandoned rail corridor, excluding the...

Young farmer forging ahead

Despite growing up in Sydney, James Daaboul says he has always been drawn to the idea of living on the land. A couple of years ago he turned that dream into a reality, leaving behind a stable job as a set builder and carpenter for greener pastures in the Northern Rivers.

Man dies at Dalwood Falls

A report will be prepared for the Coroner after a body was pulled from the water at the notoriously dangerous Dalwood Falls, about 14km west of Ballina on Sunday.

Esther Rockett. Photo estherrockett.com
Self-described ‘healthcare activist’ Esther Rockett is being targeted by a website that claims she is a ‘cyber bully’. Photo estherrockett.com

Hans Lovejoy

Two aspiring local council candidates are among 37 people who have ‘presented’ a website to ‘take a stand’ against the online conduct of self-described health care activist Esther Rockett.

Byron Shire council candidate, realtor and Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce president Gail Fuller, and Ballina Shire mayoral candidate and Ballina Chamber of Commerce board member Ray Karam have added their names to www.acupuncturebyronbay.com.

Rockett’s attacks have focused on Universal Medicine (UM), a controversial ‘complementary health’ organisation led by former tennis coach Serge Benhayon, who says he’s ‘in the business of delivering teachings that are about everyday self-loving choices’.

In 2012, Byron-based journalist David Leser, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, interviewed Benhayon.

Among a number of other claims, Leser said Benhayon claimed to be a reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Yet Benhayon has told The Echo ‘no records show’ that he made that claim.

Real estate agent and Byron Shire Council candidate Gail Fuller has put her name to a website criticising Esther Rockett.

Based in Goonellabah, UM also has offices in Brisbane and the UK.

The website strongly attacks Rockett and claims that she is ‘bringing her hate-filled agenda to town’ [Byron Bay].

The website authors also defend UM, saying that Rockett ‘has no regard for the commercial benefits that Universal Medicine brings to Byron Bay and the surrounding areas.’

Defamation case

Benhayon, who is suing Rockett for defamation, told The Echo that the trial will be held in late 2017.

‘Esther Rockett has made unfounded and highly malicious comments about me which I had ignored since 2012, but after she showed no intention of stopping, I took legal action in late 2015, ’ he told The Echo,

Rockett is defending the defamation claims and says she was so outraged by her brief experience with UM that she created several websites critiquing Benhayon.

The Echo understands the NSW Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum’s judgement for the matter’s second listed hearing has dismissed Mr Benhayon’s application to have Ms Rockett’s contextual truth defence struck out.

Not relevant

Ms Fuller says she attends courses run by the organisation, ‘which are open to the public’, and adds that she is not involved with the day-to-day running of the business.

She told The Echo, ‘It’s not relevant to my candidacy, the chamber or the other work I do in the community.’

Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce’s treasurer is Serge Benhayon’s first wife, Deborah Benhayon, who Ms Fuller says is a close friend.

Deborah Benhayon is also a board member of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce.

Ray Karam, independent candidate for A Ward at Ballina Shire Council's 2016 elections. Photo contributed
Ballina council candidate and UM supporter Ray Karam, has added his name to the website and criticised the timing of this report. Photo contributed

Ballina Shire mayoral candidate Ray Karam’s website says that he has worked with the team creating the ‘Facts about Universal Medicine’ website to catalogue ‘the many ways in which our communications platforms continue to be exploited to carry out personally motivated agendas at the expense of the wider community’, and his own site contains many references to his support of Benhayon and involvement in UM.

Karam questioned the timing of this article and told The Echo, ‘I would draw your attention to my continuous years of dedication in business in Ballina, the chamber of commerce as well as my previous 13 years experience of dedicated service to the police.

‘My extended family have more than 80 years’ experience in business in the local area in a variety of areas.

‘I am also a father of five school-aged children. These are other parts of why I am standing for mayor and councillor of Ballina Shire.

‘It’s a step I take with great respect for all that is past and what can be done in the future. I would hope this article, by focusing on one part, isn’t meant to pull away or detract from the significant contributions I have had in the local community as many residents of all ages would attest to.’

Another woman who is ‘proud’ to put her name to the website is Rebecca Asquith.

She told The Echo, ‘The people of the Byron Bay area who have put their names to this site have acted with simple civil decency, and any political candidate willing to stand up to this kind of cyber abuse is a candidate who is not afraid to stand up for the wellbeing of the broader community.’

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Thank you very much for your comments on the integrity of Universal Medicine, Esther Rockett and Serge Benhayon. We truly value reader comments. However, much of the extensive online material available on this matter is the subject of an ongoing defamation action, so we are not publishing comments on this particular story.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

No more Hottentot

I have received a petition from Change.org to change the name of Hottentot Crescent, Mullumbimby to another South African word, ‘Khoisan’, also totally irrelevant...

Call to Jewish my brethren

I call upon my brethren and Jewish Australians and Israelis who have made their permanent home here and are eligible to vote in the...

Liberal councillors walk out during Tweed mayoral election

Yesterday Liberal councillors James Owen and Rhiannon Brinsmead walked out of the extraordinary Tweed Shire Council meeting in protest against the way the Mayor of Tweed Shire is elected. 

Rehab centre Buttery celebrates 50

Binna Burra-based rehab centre, The Buttery, celebrated 50 years of serving the community this year, and held a gala dinner for 150 supporters in Tweed Heads on September 14.