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Liberal senator files defamation suit over Twitter troll account

“I’m really not sure how to take it, it’s ridiculous,” Ms Farrell said.

She said she did follow the @Geelong_Elite account but said she followed almost 2000 accounts.

The two tweets in question disparaged Senator Henderson as a “sycophant” and falsely said she was “out of office and now into jail”.

The writ filed by HWL Ebsworth Lawyers last Wednesday alleges: “The tweets are defamatory of the plaintiff and the plaintiff has been held up to hatred, ridicule and contempt and has suffered, and continues to suffer, loss and damage.”

Senator Henderson is seeking damages, including aggravated damages, interest and costs.

The two tweets Senator Sarah Henderson says are defamatory.

The two tweets Senator Sarah Henderson says are defamatory.

The tweets, which had not been deleted by Monday afternoon, were posted in the days after the federal election in May last year when Senator Henderson lost the seat of Corangamite after a boundary redistribution.

She returned to Parliament later in 2019 to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate.

The @Geelong_Elite account used a doctored picture on the tweets to look like Senator Henderson in a mugshot.

Senator Henderson declined to comment when contacted by The Age.

Senator Henderson spoke in Parliament earlier this month about the slurs published in the @Geelong_Elite Twitter account and a separate account called @ShendersonMPNOT.

“The owners of these Geelong-based accounts have published, anonymously, hundreds of degrading, vile and defamatory comments about me, which included labelling me a criminal facing jail,” she told the Senate.

Senator Henderson went on to ask for a “full, honest explanation” from Labor MP Libby Coker about the @ShendersonMPNOT account.

Ms Coker, Senator Henderson’s successor in Corangamite, has previously denied having any connection to the Twitter account. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Senator Henderson drew the connection because the account posted a denigrating tweet during a debate in the lead-up to the 2016 election. She said the tweet was deleted shortly after another person confronted Ms Coker about it, and warned her if she had anything to do with it.

“This was either an extraordinary coincidence or, at that time at least, Ms Coker had some direct or indirect connection with this Twitter account. She needs to provide a full, honest explanation,” Senator Henderson said under parliamentary privilege.

Ms Coker is not named in the writ and Senator Henderson does not allege she was responsible for the Tweet in court documents.

She said Twitter had not helped to identify who was behind the pages.

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