Peter Dutton’s defamation case against refugee activist Shane Bazzi ends with resolution

<span>Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP</span>
Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Peter Dutton’s defamation case against Shane Bazzi has come to an end, with the Liberal leader dropping his attempted high court appeal and the refugee activist ceasing a bid for costs.

Bazzi’s lawyers, O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors, revealed the pair had reached a resolution with final orders made by the full federal court on Monday.

The orders state that Dutton is liable to pay Bazzi’s costs for all but one day of the defamation case and first appeal – but the liability has “already been satisfied” by money Bazzi raised through crowdfunding.

The resolution means Bazzi will not face the prospect of the high court overturning his earlier win and Dutton will not have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs out of his own pocket.

Dutton sued Bazzi in the federal court over a tweet labelling him a “rape apologist”, initially winning an order for $35,000 compensation before that decision was overturned on appeal in May, with the court finding the tweet did not carry the imputation that Dutton excused rape when read in context with the article it was referring to.

In June, Dutton sought leave to appeal to the high court. He filed a discontinuance of that case on Friday.

Bazzi said he was “very relieved this matter has now been finalised”.

“Fighting a defamation claim brought by one of the most powerful men in the country has been a harrowing ordeal for me and my family,” he said.

“It has caused me immense distress. I am proud that I fought this case and was vindicated by the full court of the federal court. Citizens should have the freedom to reasonably criticise politicians without fear of being sued.

“I am so grateful to the thousands of people who donated to the crowdfunders and supported me.”

A spokesperson for the Liberal leader said as “part of the settlement Mr Dutton has not, and will not, be paying any amount to Mr Bazzi or his lawyers”.

“This has demonstrated that it is completely unacceptable to call someone a rape apologist, or descriptions of a similar grotesque nature. The same rules should apply online as they do in the real world.”

Related: Peter Dutton accuses Shane Bazzi of malice over abusive tweets in defamation case

Bazzi raised $248,000 through crowdfunding, after administration costs, with all funds applied to the case.

After winning in the full federal court, Bazzi pursued Dutton for costs. The Liberal leader resisted, arguing a costs award would amount to a “windfall” for Bazzi given his crowdfunding.

In court in August, Dutton’s lawyers also attacked what Bazzi’s counsel described as an “error” in a statement about his solicitors’ costs, asking to cross-examine them to check they had not been presented a “sham” bill.

In a statement, O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors said the case had “been a long and tough campaign against a powerful adversary”.

“Shane and his family have shown great courage to defend it as far as they have,” the lawyers said.

“It is very welcome news for them and us that the matter is now at an end. We accept there should be some boundaries to things you can say about people, even politicians, but we never for a moment believed that Mr Bazzi had crossed that line and, in the end, neither did the court.”