PRO-lifers Roland and Anna von Marburg have received an unreserved apology and $180,000 from retired Wodonga obstetrician Pieter Mourik.
The Albury couple thanked God after the apology was read to the Supreme Court of Victoria by Dr Mourik’s barrister at a hearing in Melbourne on Monday.
The step ends defamation action which the von Marburgs had taken against Dr Mourik over posts and comments on the Rights to Privacy Albury Facebook page.
They stemmed from an anti-abortion vigil held outside Albury’s Englehardt Street termination clinic in 2014.
In his apology written on his letterhead on May 31, Dr Mourik stated the Facebook post and comments included “untrue and offensive material and photographs”.
“I regret authoring posts with photographs that were critical of Dr Roland and Anna von Marburg,” Dr Mourik wrote in the signed document.
“I regret this conduct and the damage caused.
“I acknowledge my actions encouraged other people to engage in a ‘name and shame’ campaign substantially directed at damaging the professional and personal reputations of Dr Roland von Marburg and Anna von Marburg.
“This aggravated matters further.
“As a spokesperson for Rights to Privacy Albury, I had an administrative role in the conduct of the Facebook page at the relevant time.
“I should have removed the untrue and offensive comments about the von Marburgs when initially requested to do so.
“I sincerely and unreservedly apologise to Dr Roland von Marburg and Anna von Marburg for the hurt, embarrassment and damage which the posts and comments have caused to their personal or professional reputations."
The von Marburgs’ barrister Will Houghton QC told The Border Mail outside court the terms of the settlement included Dr Mourik’s apology being posted on the front page of the Rights to Privacy Albury Facebook site for the next two months.
In a statement responding to Dr Mourik’s apology, the von Marburgs stated they “thank God for the grace to persevere and to endure the hurt, embarrassment and damage caused by the ‘name and shame’ campaign substantially directed at damaging their professional and personal reputations”.
“They thank their children, family, friends and warrior souls for their encouragement and prayers. They have been their rock.” the statement read.
“They pray this will be the end of the matter.”