Modern Viking battle leads to $150k defamation claim
A bitter feud has broken out within a Queensland historical group that re-enacts fearsome Viking wars, leaving one warrior hurt and upset.
Jorth Gar member Todd Hayden, from Tweed Heads, NSW, has sued Viking club founder Luke Payne, a blacksmith from Dunoon, NSW, for $150,000 defamation damages in Southport District Court after being booted out of the club last October.
Hayden, who is representing himself in court, alleges numerous Queensland club members read posts on the club's Facebook page where Payne wrongly accused him of conspiring to destroy Jorth Gar, maliciously inciting discontent within the group, spreading lies and deceit and of illegally recording conversations between Payne and club hierarchy.
Hayden claims the expulsion and lies posted on Facebook have left him anxious and stressed because he has been cut off from all of his Viking re-enactor mates, and the group was his primary outlet for socialising and exercising while having fun.
Hayden claims in his court document the feud is keeping him awake at night and reducing his appetite and his expulsion from the club of Pagan warriors has cost him nine friendships.
Hayden alleges he was expelled after he challenged Payne about the unfairness of Payne appointing himself as "the boss of everything" in the group as a leader who could not be voted out of the club, according to a new code of conduct that Payne introduced last September.
Hayden claims the code also states Payne is the only member of Jorth Gar who can portray a clan chief known as a Jarl during re-enactments.
Hayden alleges that despite Payne receiving a concerns notice under the Defamation Act on October 23, Payne had not apologised and has refused to remove the allegedly defamatory posts from Facebook.
Both men have been members of Jorth Gar since 2005 when it was established.
The club is a branch of the New Varangian Guard organisation, and appears regularly at a medieval festival in Caboolture which was cancelled this year due to COVID-19.
No defence has been filed.