The Sydney Morning Herald isn’t coping well with the thought that Israel Folau might have even the slightest chance of winning his legal action against
The Australian Rugby Union Rugby Australia.
Reporter Tom Decent and his editors are particularly piqued that quite a few people are putting their money behind Folau in a Go Fund Me campaign:
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to controversial rugby union player Israel Folau will end up in the pockets of Rugby Australia if he loses a protracted legal battle against them.
Well, yes, that’s how legal cost allocation tends to work once cases have been decided.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told Nine News last night she was surprised Folau, one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport, would ask the general public for financial support.
Where “surprised” is a synonym for “shitting herself“.
“From our perspective [GoFundMe] is a place where sick children get support, so certainly it is not a strategy we thought was appropriate,” Ms Castle said. “They [donors] have seen what the money is going to be used for and they have to make their own decision.”
No, I’m pretty sure it isn’t just for sending bald kids to Orlando, with a huge range of causes from the deadly serious to the frivolous on there.
There’s top level categories for people asking for donations for their weddings and holidays and jokers asking for beer money. For example, I’ve recently been following the progress of a couple who are having a fabulous time circumnavigating in a small yacht who are being funded by donations on the page.
Once Folau’s GoFundMe page was activated just before midnight on Thursday, the money starting rolling in for the exiled Wallabies fullback who pleaded in a viral video for financial support to help stand up for religious freedom.
By 8pm yesterday, more than $410,000 had been sent his way as donors from all over the globe showed their support for an athlete prepared for the “fight of my life”.
That’s quite impressive, but don’t expect any back slapping from the media as it doesn’t fit their narrative. In fact….
However, questions have been raised about the wording of a disclaimer at the bottom of the fundraising page. It read: “In making this contribution I acknowledge that my contributions are made freely as a gift on the basis previously affirmed and that there will be no obligations on Israel Folau to do anything for me in recognition of the gift or to apply the funds in any particular way with respect to his legal action, and that I hold no expectation to receive anything in return for my contribution.”
A basic search of the other requests for donations would show that’s just standard for every request. In fact, every Go Fund Me campaign has the following default disclaimer as part of the platform’s terms and conditions:
All Donations are at your own risk. When you make a Donation through the Services, it is your responsibility to understand how your money will be used. GoFundMe is not responsible for any offers, promises, rewards or promotions made or offered by Charities, Campaigns or Campaign Organisers. We do not and cannot verify the information that Campaign Organisers supply, nor do we represent or guarantee that the Donations will be used in accordance with any fundraising purpose prescribed by a Campaign Organiser or Charity or in accordance with applicable laws.
It might be argued that, by putting the disclaimer on his page, Folau is being more open and honest than everyone else who prefers to let it languish behind a hyperlink.
Still, it’s nice of Tom Decent to draw everyone’s attention to this. Great public service there, Tom; Woodward and Bernstein will be proud of you.
When contacted by the Herald, a spokesperson for Folau declined to comment on the wording of the disclaimer or what the 30-year-old’s plans were if the money raised was surplus to his legal fees.
Frankly, if I were advising the Folau team, I’d suggest they treat any contact from the Sydney Morning Herald as one made in bad faith, based on all the bias they’ve already demonstrated.
Tom is lucky they still answer his calls to even say, “no comment” or something a little more robustly Anglo Saxon.
While it is expected Folau will use the cash for his upcoming challenge, the $3 million goal he set far exceeds the usual expectations for such a legal bill. One barrister labelled the price tag “outrageous”.
A barrister so brave that they didn’t want to be named? Surely there’s an opportunity for the shy and anonymous lawyer to get his/her/zher name out there to offer to under-bid the incumbent legal team?
RA chief executive Raelene Castle (right) said she was surprised one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport would ask the public for financial support.
Well, if he’s being overpaid by so much, who’s fault is that Raelene?
Law Council of Australia president Arthur Moses warned that the thousands of individuals who donated anywhere from $5 to as much as $10,000 yesterday might not realise exactly where their money is going.
Again, it’s great that the public are being made aware of the Ts&Cs of the Go Fund Me website all of a sudden. Interesting that Moses wasn’t leading his people across the sea to safety for all other campaigns.
“The issue of crowdfunding and its application to litigation opens up a veritable can of worms for the legal profession and the courts,” Mr Moses said. “This an issue which the legal profession and the courts must grapple with if this practice continues to increase.
Hold the front page; “lawyer finds a problem to be solved by lawyers“.
“A security for costs order is an order that requires a litigant to deposit money into a secured account. This means that if the case is dismissed or the litigation fails, this money would be used to pay legal expenses of the opposing side.
“There are also questions around what occurs with remaining funds if the money is not used in its totality. Is it returned to those who donated or to the person who collected the funds?”
Yes, we’ve covered that already. Read the terms and conditions, Moses.
It’s a donation with no guarantee.
Yet knowing this, people have still freely donated half a million dollars already? That’s got to hurt.
There were also suggestions Folau’s GoFundMe advertisement breached the site’s rules, which states that users may not attempt to raise money for, “for the legal defence of … intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases”.
Suggestions from whom? The Sydney Morning Herald sportsdesk or someone more qualified in analysing the terms of service for a website?
Actually, this is a brilliant example of fake news. The clause partially quoted above is part of a list of inappropriate causes. Have a look at what Tom deliberately cut out and replaced with some dots:
8. campaigns we deem, at our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity or serious disabilities or diseases;
In other words it’s entirely at the website’s discretion and they are concerned with not getting involved in criminal cases, which this isn’t.
Selective editing, Tom? For shame, Tom Decent, for shame.
It doesn’t matter which side of the debate you support, there’s no excuse for deliberate selective editing to fraudulently bolster your side.
Also, whipping up a non-story about terms and conditions applicable to every campaign for donations as if they were unique to Folau is a clear form of journalistic fraud.
It must be quite a life burden to have a surname such as “Decent” to live up to.