Skeptic News: AVN try to use law to silence critics


Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network, a notorious anti-vaccination organisation, has applied for Apprehended Violence Orders against people who have been critical of her in cyberspace.

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is a court order that aims to protect a person from another person that causes them to fear for their safety: An AVO is designed to protect a person from: domestic violence, or personal violence. An AVO can also protect property that has been damaged or threatened with damage. Domestic and personal violence can include: psychological or emotional abuse,  physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial restrictions or control, obsessive or jealous behaviour, stalking, intimidation or harassment. An individual can apply for an AVO if you are in fear of being assaulted, you are being intimidated, harassed or molested (either in person or by telephone calls, text messages, emails, or in other ways, including through facebook or other similar websites), and fear for your safety or if you are being stalked by someone where you live, where you work, or at places that you go.

Dorey appears to have targeted Australian Skeptics Peter Bowditch and Dan Buzzard with these orders for their criticism of her and her organisations anti-vaccination propaganda. Here is Peter Bowditchs summary of the story:

  • On September 5, Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network applied to the court to have Apprehended Personal Violence Orders placed on me and two other people. I haven’t seen the notices served on the other two respondents but as far as I know one was over some phone calls and the other related to a letter sent to Ms Dorey.
  • AVOs are a legally enforceable means of making people stay away from each other, where one party feels threatened in some way by the other. They are commonly used as a response to domestic violence incidents and to stalking. An AVO can also be called an Intervention Order, Restraining Order or Protection Order, You can see more about AVOs here.
  • All three respondents were ordered to appear in court on September 27 for what is known as a “mention” or “directions” hearing. This is not a full hearing of evidence and arguments but is held to set a mutually agreeable date for the full hearing. The particular court (Ballina, New South Wales) is 735 kilometres from my home by road and 150 kilometres from the nearest railway station or airport with direct connection to Sydney so I was not required to attend provided that I notified the court that I would be absent. I do not know if either of the other respondents asked to be absent but I certainly did.
  • As well as notifying the court that I would not be attending the mention hearing I also outlined my reasons for contesting the application. Again, I do not know anything about any communication the other two respondents might have had with the court.
  • On September 28 I phoned the court to find out what had happened. I was told that no interim or temporary order had been placed on me and that November 15 had been set as the date for the full hearing. I expect that I will receive written correspondence about this during the coming week.
  • Obviously the lady at the court wasn’t going to talk to me about anyone except me, but it has been confirmed that interim orders were placed on the other two respondents. (This is what happens in the majority of these cases anyway, as the magistrate might have to act to limit any immediate danger before all the facts are known.) I might know more after we all get papers in the mail.

Hopefully this will be seen for the abuse of the law that it is and thrown out of court. The law does not and should not exist to allow quacks and those spreading dangerous nonsense to silence any of their critics.

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