The owner of Inflation nightclub in Melbourne’s CBD, Martha Tsamis, has won a legal battle against Victoria Police over comments which were found to be damaging to her reputation made by former superintendent Brett Guerin.
The Supreme Court awarded the Greek Australian businesswoman $90,000 in damages this week, with reports suggesting that the plaintiff was seeking between $200,000 and $350,000 in the defamation suit.
But according to Tsamis’ statement outside court, the case was “not about the number”.
“My legal costs are hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I came here for the truth, and the truth was what the judge said – I have a reputation.”
Mr Guerin had made the comments found to be defamatory in 2014 while interviewed by 3AW radio and the Herald Sun newspaper, claiming that Ms Tsamis was managing the club in “a manner that was conducive to drug trafficking, drunkenness and violence”.
In August, a jury found the personal allegations against her and her role to be false, but that claims related to drug activity in and around the venue were “substantially true” accepting the evidence presented.
In a 48-page ruling this week, Justice Dixon noted “there was overwhelming evidence of drug activity” and that it was demonstrated police had failed to control it.
Mr Guerin’s comments were made at a time when Victoria Police was pursuing to limit the nightclub’s trading hours, following concerns about how the venue was run, with authorities submitting an application to the liquor regulation commission.
The application was eventually dropped.
“She [Ms Tsamis] felt that her business was under attack and that she personally was under attack,” said Justice Dixon while the court also heard that she received threats following Mr Guerin’s public comments.
Ms Tsamis has been operating Inflation since 1995. Justice Dixon stated convinced that the businesswoman “has a strong personal anti-drug attitude”, noting that she had been actively endorsing safe practices in licensed venues for more than 25 years.
In November, Ms Tsamis had reached a settlement with Victoria Police over an unrelated case about police shootings at her nightclub in 2017, which caused injuries to two patrons.