Articles reporting that NRL fan Mina Greiss spat at the rape victim of former player Jarryd Hayne were true and not defamatory, Seven Network has said.
In a defence to a Federal Court defamation suit, Seven denies that two 7News articles written in May last year and a related tweet by journalist Leonie Ryan injured Mr Greiss' character or reputation or caused him any harm or embarrassment.
In May 2021, Hayne was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison after being found guilty of two charges of sexual assault without consent.
Mr Greiss, along with others, attended the Newcastle courthouse in support of Hayne.
In Seven's report, Mr Greiss was described as a "grub" who spat at the alleged victim in a "vile act".
In the lawsuit, which was launched in April, Seven is accused of falsely reporting that Mr Greiss was a despicable person who stared down and spat at the alleged rape victim in an attempt to intimidate her.
Ryan is accused of inciting hatred by encouraging her Twitter followers to share the article.
In its defence, Seven says if the Federal Court finds the articles and the tweet were defamatory, that what was written in them was true and was the broadcaster's honest opinion.
Mr Greiss did not approve of the court's sentencing of Hayne and had referred to the rape victim as an escort, Seven claims.
"[Mr Greiss] faced the walkway and stared at the victim and spat towards her feet as she passed by him to exit the court precinct," the news publication wrote.
The articles were in the public interest because they reported on attitudes towards victims of sexual assault, the treatment of women, the safety of court witnesses, and the sentencing of a high profile sports player, Seven said.
Mr Greiss was issued with an infringement notice and issued with a $500 fine by NSW Police after the spitting incident.
The case will come before Justice Anna Katzmann on July 4.
Australian Associated Press
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