Lord Mayor’s defamation warning to city councillor

Adelaide Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith has again warned a city councillor over defamation, this time demanding he apologise for comments made during a recent council meeting.

Jun 21, 2024, updated Jun 21, 2024
Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith has issued a warning to Councillor Henry Davis over defamation. Photos: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith has issued a warning to Councillor Henry Davis over defamation. Photos: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Lomax-Smith’s lawyers sent Henry Davis a concerns notice on Wednesday, stating that he had defamed her at a June 11 council meeting.

The notice said that Davis had accused Lomax-Smith of being a “liar” during a debate about Economic Development Agency funding.

Councillors voted to suspend Davis from the rest of the meeting following the comment.

The Lord Mayor’s concerns notice, seen by InDaily, said that Davis’ statements “have caused, and are likely to continue to cause, distress and serious reputational harm” and are “the latest in a series of false and unjustified defamatory attacks made by you [Davis] against our client [Lomax-Smith]”.

The concerns notice requests Davis issue an apology at the upcoming council meeting on Tuesday, June 25.

Davis said on radio yesterday that he would not apologise or issue a retraction. 

He later told InDaily he was “hoping” he and the Lord Mayor could “sort this out” so ratepayer funds would be not spent on defamation proceedings or other litigated matters of council conduct.

“I have a lot of respect for her [Lomax-Smith],” Davis said.

“She’s a doctor, she’s a former cabinet minister in the Rann government, she has a lot of experience.”

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Davis said he wanted to talk to Lomax-Smith about the concerns notice among other issues, including his removal from meetings.

A council spokesperson told InDaily: “The Lord Mayor does not comment on ongoing legal matters but does wish to clarify she has personally covered the costs of engaging lawyers over this matter.”

It’s the second concerns notice Davis has received from Lomax-Smith’s lawyers, the first being in November 2023.

That notice referenced two videos Davis had published on his Instagram page concerning the lowering of Aboriginal flags at Town Hall and Victoria Square to half-mast following the national Voice to Parliament referendum result.

The November notice stated that since Davis’ videos “have been republished on the ‘Adelaide Set’ Instagram account which has 69,400 followers exacerbating the damage you have caused to our client’s reputation”.

The notice requested the videos be deleted and an apology be issued.

The videos are still publicly available on Davis’ Instagram.

Yesterday, Davis published another Instagram video about the defamation claim, including a screenshot of the concerns notice and a clip from the council live stream. This video has also been republished by the Adelaide Set Instagram page.

Davis, a resident of Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills, is a candidate for Liberal preselection in the federal seat of Mayo. InDaily understands Davis will be up against Kangaroo Island marathon founder Nathan Godfrey or former Nicolle Flint staffer Zane Basic to take on independent MP Rebekha Sharkie.

Davis said whether or not he’s successful for Mayo it won’t impact his role within the city council.

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