Former girlfriend of a Sydney based senior medical specialist was seared by her conscious following their breakup, compelling her, in a fit of Little Miss Goody Two Shoes, to take action to reform the Australian medical profession.
Ms Karen McLeod girded her loins to change the world of medical practice by writing to the NSW Minister for Health, and to her former boyfriend’s health service employer.
In the letters she explained that Dr Mark Hertzberg was wont to a bit of "schmoozing and boozing" on drug company junkets, and was something of a "dysfunctional walking zombie". Not dissimilar to the rest of us, in other words.
"I thought my letters would change the system … I don't believe there was anything in those letters that was malicious to him. It was about the good of humanity, the system, and for him."
A less noble person might have written a kind letter to his Mum, noting all of his faults, and suggesting that he had come from a deficient family setting. But Miss Humanity thought more good would come from writing to someone with no power or inclination to do much of anything about your garden-variety boozing-dysfunctional-zombie doctor.
Ms McLeod was surprised that her letter found its way back to her former boyfriend, obviously believing - quite reasonably so - that the identity of Supergirl would be protected, as the recipients of her missive sprung into action behind her, stung by the devastating revelations of her correspondence, their very beings pricked like pin cushions at the notion of doctors taking advantage of drug company sponsored conferences, not to mention the social and medical ramifications of the consequential jet lag. This was whistle blowing on a grand scale, on matters previously hidden safely behind the curtains of business class.
Thus it came to be that the former boyfriend sued Supergirl, not for the depth and sincerity of her humanity, rather, for defamation, as if schmoozing at pharmaceutical funded fun-filled days is a tawdry matter, of which doctors carry a private burden of shame, or that boozing is a dirty family secret in this great brown land.
Funnily enough, the jury was a phlegmatic bunch, rejecting nine of the ten charges of defamatory imputation, concluding, we assume, that it’s damned near impossible to defame a doctor. You can throw as much mud as you’d like, and a jury will shrug its collective shoulder, and mumble, slack-jawed, “huh”, as if one had merely mentioned a baby passing wind, or burping. A doctor’s reputation is a momentary and valueless thing.
The jury did agree that Dr Hertzberg "brags he is cooking the system" - but found it was not defamatory.
It is expected Dr Hertzberg's barrister will ask for the jury verdict to be put aside as "perverse", as you would.
Having failed, on this occasion, in her "duty to reveal the corrupting influence of drug companies", and to thereby bring about any good for humanity, the system, or her former boyfriend, we await Supergirl’s future efforts at doing something good for humanity, the system, and her next boyfriend.