Press Release

Update 5 March 2015

Court of Appeal, 459 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Hearing to begin at 10:00 AM

Court Room not yet assigned - 3 courts available; Green (ground), Red (first floor), Blue (second floor)

Judges who are to hear appeal not yet announced




For Release                                        2nd March 2015


Atheist artists found by Supreme Court Judge Emilios Kyrou to have "maliciously lied" and to have "defamed" short-time Gallery owner Robert Cripps appeal judgment.


The 2014 findings made by Judge Emilios Kyrou against atheist surrealist artists Demetrios Vakras and Lee-Anne Raymond included punitive record damages. Following the eight-day defamation trial the Supreme Court of Victoria made a sensationalist press release announcing the judge's findings. It was widely reported by most news outlets in Australia focusing in on the claims made by the judge that the first defendant, Demetrios Vakras, had "compared Robert Cripps to Hitler", of making "deliberately false" evidence and that he told a "blatant lie" that Cripps agreed he "hated Jews". Similarly, it was contended that the second defendant, artist Lee-Anne Raymond, "deliberately lied" out of "malice" and simply "made up" evidence because it was "detailed, elaborate and adamant". Judge Kyrou's judgment concluded all Vakras' and Raymond's witnesses to be "partial" due to their prior bad experiences with Robert Cripps.


David Gilbertson QC continues to represent the artists in the appeal which sets out to demonstrate that "The findings of the primary judge ... are flawed", that "There was no evidentiary basis for the findings..." that, evidence used to support these findings "...was not put in cross-examination." and that, the "...primary judge palpably misused his advantage of observing the witnesses." The appeal recommends that a new trial be ordered.


In the judgment Judge Kyrou found that due to artist Demetrios Vakras' use of "foreign words" (written in Vakras' native Greek) that the exhibition could be said to convey "anti-Palestinian" ideas and concluded the 2009 exhibition to therefore be "offensive". In an exhibition, in which one element exposed Hitler's holocaust to have been guided by Genesis, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, judge Kyrou found that an "association with Hitler" constituted an "egregious defamation". In his finding, Justice Kyrou concluded that the historical information presented in the exhibition and information submitted to the trial court from the German Federal archives (Bundesarchiv), as well as quotes from Mein Kampf were "without basis in fact".


The artists maintain that the trial and judgment have subverted the claimed purpose of the law to instead act to chill all debate regarding criticism of religious doctrines through a punitive outcome. Careful examination of the case must conclude there are implications for freedom of the right to impart and receive information, including historic information, that impact upon the right for artists and writers to criticise religion. Why Judge Emilios Kyrou chose to make such an example of these two atheists, Surrealist artists, who criticise religion is a valid question of public concern.


The appeal is scheduled for Thursday, 5th March 2015

Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne Court of Appeal Civil Division
S APCI 2014 0098 and S APCI 2014 0099



External comment on this case can be sourced here:



Page 30, Humanist Transhumanist Exhibition Catalogue (excerpt).
Artwork and text: Demetrios Vakras.

Source: Demetrios Vakras and Lee-Anne Raymond
Warning: includes "foreign words", χαός (chaos) and χασμός (chasm).


Catalogue available on request.





Amin al Husseini and Adolf Hitler - 1941
German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

Made available to the world public by the Bundesarchiv via the wikimedia commons

Warning: use may result in claims of defamation by those who support the "Palestinian cause" against the Jews of Palestine who do not want it known that Hitler supported the same cause.




1) Bundesarchiv photograph of Al Husseini, "Mufti of Palestine", meeting with Adolf Hitler was submitted as evidence. It was included in an email of objection sent to Cripps dated June 2009. This email is partially quoted at POINT 71 of the finding:
"IF I had wanted to write about issues regarding the suicide murders of Israelis I would have cited different passages from the Koran: ... Read the Mein Kampf. You will find sentiments identical to yours. The problems in 'Palestine' pre-exist the creation of the Jewish state. The ... Mufti of Jerusalem ... actively called for the extermination of Jews, before a Jewish state existed, and asked for Hitler's help. SO YOU CANNOT BLAME THE 'JEW'S STATE' AS THE CAUSE for problems since the problems pre-existed the Jewish state. Hitler actively conscripted Muslims who killed Jews and Orthodox Christians"


2) At POINT 313 Kyrou finds that the material referred to in that email is "Mr Vakras' theories".


3) At POINT 307 Kyrou's finding is, for anyone to claim "that they have views similar to those of Hitler elevates the defamation to one of the most egregious examples of its type. To associate anyone with the views of Hitler is to profoundly damage their reputation." Such a finding is made possible by rejecting the Bundesarchiv evidence.


4) At POINT 736, Kyrou claims that the material used as evidence, primarily the Bundesarchiv photograph, is "improper and lacking in bona fides, it is absolutely outrageous. The material mocks, ridicules and vilifies Mr Cripps".


5) On the finding against Vakras for using "foreign words", refer POINT 146 (h) of Kyrou's finding. Kyrou finds that use of "foreign words" led Cripps to conclude that the essays expressed "anti-Palestinian" sentiments.


6) On the claim that the essays were "offensive", refer POINT 242 of Kyrou's finding: "[Cripps] informed Mr Vakras of his concerns about the potentially offensive statements in Mr Vakras’ essays."


7) The "potentially offensive statements" referred to by Kyrou are evidenced by that written in "APPENDIX 5 — Secular Muse Essay". Two observations should be noted: there are NO "foreign words"; and what is claimed to be "offensive" appears to be the criticism of Koranic as well as Old Testament and New Testament exhortations for believers to do acts of violence. What is reproduced as "APPENDIX 5 — Secular Muse Essay" is the text from pp. 25-26 of the Publication Humanist Transhumanist that had been published by the artists to accompany the exhibition.


8) Cripps' court testimony was that the "foreign words" referred to in the finding were written in "a different script", p. 389 line 15-30, of the Trial Transcripts. The script in question was Vakras' native Greek which was used in other essays about Greek Mythology.


9) Kyrou found that objections by Cripps to Vakras' use of "foreign words" (Greek) made actions by Cripps against Vakras lawful. This judgement now makes it lawful to do an act defined as unlawful in s.9 of the RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975, Referring to POINT 730, Kyrou finds "This motivation and Mr Vakras’ ill-will towards Mr Cripps — which persist and account for the retention of the Vakras Articles on the internet — were born out of the offence that Mr Vakras took to the feedback that Mr Cripps provided about Mr Vakras’ essays."

Finding can be accessed:

The publication that accompanied exhibition