Nina Funnell has been very busy

Amongst the feminist activists up in arms over my fake rape crisis campus tour, there’s one woman who is doing her best to stop me.

Nina Funnell is a rape survivor who has built her journalism career exaggerating the risk of rape to young women at our universities. She’s the key spokesperson for End Rape on Campus which played a significant role in prompting the Human Rights Commission’s survey on sexual assault and harassment. Then, when that proved a fizzer, her organisation still bullied universities into measures to tackle ‘sexual violence’ – like sexual consent courses, rape crisis lines and so on. She’s currently trying to persuade universities to do new surveys, trying to cook the results more to her satisfaction.

In the past two years Funnell has published nine articles which attack me or include material designed to damage my professional reputation – plus there was a Sixty Minutes programme, a recent ABC 7.30 Report and numerous other newspaper reports based on the damaging material she has been promoting, using material she has clearly supplied to the journalists.

Last year she linked the rape and murder of the La Trobe student Aya Maarsarwe to my campus tour in an article in The Saturday Paper. I posted a detailed analysis of the many inaccuracies in that article on my Facebook page and encouraged my readers to report her to the Press Council.

Clearly my loyal followers did their homework because I then suddenly received a letter from a female law firm threatening defamation action over that post. This petered out following a letter from the formidable Brisbane QC Tony Morris, who is well-known for successfully defending the QUT students in the indigenous computer lab scandal.

Morris wrote to Funnell’s lawyers saying we did not wish to discourage her from commencing legal proceedings. “Ms Arndt cannot conceive of a better way to ventilate the issues about which she is passionate, than at a trial where the focus of the tribunal of fact will be as to your client’s honesty, integrity and professionalism as a journalist.” Read here Morris’s entertaining response to the Funnell letter.

Yet most of the Funnell attacks relate to a YouTube video I made with Nico Bester, a Tasmanian teacher who went to prison for having a sexual relationship with one of his students. I decided to interview Bester after a judge spoke out against vigilante justice when feminist activists were targeting him following his release from prison, trying to stop him studying for a PhD at the University of Tasmania. In that interview I condemned Bester’s criminal actions, we discussed the seriousness of his crime and agreed his prison sentence was absolutely appropriate.

Funnell is persistently using carefully selected edits from that video, taking comments out of context to suggest I’m a pederast apologist. See the blog in which I explained all this following the ferocious 60 Minutes attack on me last year, where Funnell launched her  “Let Her Speak” campaign to allow Bester’s victim to speak about what happened. Tasmania has now changed its laws to allow sexual abuse victims to go public – which has enabled Funnell to launch a new wave of attacks on me as part of the victim’s new version of events involving Bester, which differ significantly from the evidence presented in the criminal trial.

Apart from all this, there have also been two complaints in the last six months to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission claiming I am misrepresenting my professional qualifications. Both times the Commission dismissed the complaint. I am always careful when describing my qualifications to say that I “trained as a clinical psychologist,” rather than suggesting I am currently practising.  I haven’t worked in this field for over 40 years but it’s difficult to avoid inaccurate descriptions appearing occasionally in the media.

It’s obvious that people are gunning for me. My next campus talk is in September at UNSW and social media chat from one of the feminist campus groups revealed End Rape on Campus has “confidential damning information” on me which they plan to release prior to the event.

Taking action

I’ve decided to go public with details of this malicious campaign against me and enlist your support. I’m posting here all the details of the attacks that have been made on me, so you have all the facts at hand.

It would be very helpful if you could make complaints to the Press Council about the action of publishers in aiding in this persistent campaign by failing to point out Nina Funnell’s obvious interest in discrediting me, given her role as the most prominent activists promoting the campus rape crisis. The Press Council’s general principles (item 8) says media must “ensure conflicts of interest are avoided or adequately disclosed and that they do not influence published material.” See the complete list of Funnell’s relevant publications here.

You might also like to complain to the ABC about the failure of the 7.30 Report to acknowledge Funnell’s conflict of interest when they featured her on the recent programme about Bester, where they showed my video.

Or make a complaint  to ACMA -the Australian Communications and Media Authority – about the programme.

In addition you might like to complain to the Press Council about: Nina Funnell’s own failure to disclose  her conflict of interest (item 8); her failure to achieve “accuracy and clarity” through avoiding misleading material and disguising opinion as fact (item 1); similarly her failure to achieve “fairness and balance” through “omission of key facts” in relation to my video and her reporting of the rape crisis (item 3). Finally, there’s the issue of “avoidance of harm” (item 6) which refers to contributing to “offence, distress or prejudice” – which is clearly demonstrated in the prolonged, malicious campaign she is conducting against me.

Even though these complaints may not lead to any real outcome, they are mighty irritating and expensive for publishers and journalists to deal with and hence may encourage these organisations to acknowledge Funnell’s conflict of interest in future publications and programmes.

Whilst it is preferable to have complaints individually worded, we have put together sample answers you can use for your Press Council complaint here. Please use that if it is easier for you, particularly if this enables you to make complaints about a number of the Funnell articles.

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