Man wrongly identified as Bondi attacker settles defamation case with Seven Network

Source: The Australian

The man incorrectly identified by the Channel Seven as the person responsible for the Bondi Junction stabbing attack, has settled his defamation case against the network. 

Benjamin Cohen was wrongly named by Seven, after Joel Cauchi killed six people in the attack at a Westfield shopping centre. 

“Seven accepts the identification was a grave mistake and that these assertions were entirely false and without basis,” Seven Managing Director Jeff Howard said in a statement to Cohen.

Howard said Seven “withdraws the false allegations unreservedly and apologises to you for the harm you and your family have suffered as a result of Seven’s statements about you”.

Cohen in a statement said people online who “target individuals or communities should be held accountable for the consequences of their actions, and platforms should be more accountable for the content they host”.

Cohen’s laywer Patrick George said the terms of settlement were confidential. 

A 20-year-old student at the University of Sydney, Cohen was named as the “40-year-old lone-wolf attacker Benjamin Cohen” on Seven’s Sunrise program after the Bondi attack.

Cohen’s misidentification by the Seven Network was preceded by a number of allegations made online, and amplified by a number of accounts on X (formerly Twitter) in the hours after the attack.

Following the misreporting, Cohen sought the services by prominent defamation barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC.

He also posted a video, published by News Corp, slamming the actions of Seven.

Sunrise did not seek comment from Cohen’s family before wrongly identifying him, while his family told the ABC that Seven blamed the error on a junior social media editor.

“It was escalated immediately and rectified. Seven sincerely apologises for the error,” a Seven spokesman said, adding that it was “human error”.

The legal action is another blow for Seven, an organisation that has spent more than its fair share of time embroiled in court proceedings of late.

Seven West Media owner Kerry Stokes financially backed Ben Roberts-Smith’s failed defamation action against Nine Newspapers, while sordid details of Spotlight producers’ conduct was detailed in Bruce Lehrmann’s failed defamation action.

On Monday it was found that on the balance of probabilities Lehrmann did rape Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins and dismissed the defamation claim.

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