Ulrike Lunacek, European PM, sues Zsolt Bayer
Does the name Ulrike Lunacek ring a bell? For the faithful readers of Hungarian Spectrum it should. She is an Austrian member of the European Parliament who at the European Parliament’s Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs hearings on “The Situation in Hungary” called attention to the fact that in the much glorified Peace March of January 2012 there were a number of antisemitic posters. That prompted Zsolt Bayer to call her all sorts of names on EchoTV, the far-right television station whose owner, Gábor Széles, also owns Magyar Hírlap. The staff of the television station and the newspaper overlap. Zsolt Bayer writes a weekly column in the paper and also has a political show on Friday nights on EchoTV called ” Korrektúra.” The details can be read in a post that appeared here on February 15 entitled “Fidesz style: Ulrike Lunacek versus Zsolt Bayer.”
Here are a few choice words of Zsolt Bayer. “Then comes a half-witted [The Germans translated it as 'brain amputeed'] impetiginous lying idiot, Ulrike Lunacek, and I expressed myself delicately … The whole rotten filthy lie from the mouth of a rotten filth bag.” He went on and told the audience his opinion of the European Union in general: “The Union not only has no ethos, it has nothing. The Union has Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Neelie Kroes, and that little green, one cannot even remember her name, yes, Ulrike Lunacek.”
But the world is small and Ulrike Lunacek read about Bayer’s remarks and insisted that EchoTV distance itself from Zsolt Bayer. Naturally, they didn’t. Then she turned to the Media Authority. Again, nothing happened. But, it seems, Ms Lunacek is insistent. She decided to sue Zsolt Bayer. Here is the claim she submitted to the Metropolitan Court (Fővárosi Bíróság).
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Markó u. 27.
To the honorable Metropolitan Court,
Ulrike Lunacek (address: European Parliament, Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 08G169; Rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Bruxelles, Belgium) as claimant hereby submits the following
through her appointed, external legal representative against Zsolt Bayer as first defendant (2098 Pilisszentkereszt, Tölgyfa utca 13.) and ECHO HUNGÁRIA TV. Co. (1145 Budapest, Törökőr u. 78.) as second defendant requesting the Court to declare violation of personality rights, to prohibit from further infringement and to claim for damages.
Hereby I apply to the Court to declare violation of the claimant’s personality rights and prohibit the defendants from further infringement based on the detailed justification below, in accordance with Section 75 and 76 of the Civil Code, also considering points a) and b) of Section 84 Paragraph (1).
In accordance with Section 84 Paragraph (1) point e) and Section 339 and 355 of the Civil Code I apply to the Court to oblige the defendants to pay 300000 HUF (1st defendant) and 500 000 HUF (2nd defendant) for the damages, including interests calculated from the 9th of February, 2012.
The justification of our action is the following:
I. Brief summary of the case
In the TV show titled Korrektúra, broadcast on ECHO TV (2nd defendant), the 1st defendant made the below quoted statements, severely violating the claimant’s personality (inherent) rights. The statements were made as reactions to the claimant’s speech at the hearing of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on the 9th of February, 2012. The recording of the speech was not presented in the program and the interpretation of its content was significantly biased.
„Then comes a brainless, impetiginous, lying idiot, Ulrike Lunacek, (…) and how nicely I expressed myself. (…) The whole thing is a rotten, dirty lie from the mouth of a rotten dirt. ”
After this the presenter and the other persons participating in the program make ambiguous comments questioning the femininity of the claimant and they seem to enjoy their own „wittiness”.
1. Violating inherent rights by declaring infringing ” opinion”: slander and violation of human dignity.
According to our position, the defendants severely violated the personality rights of the plaintiff by making fun of her femininity in a manner that would be unacceptable in a pub as well, not only in a TV show. The verbal abuse was pointless and uncalled for, ignoring the human dignity of the plaintiff. Although the plaintiff, as a member of the European Parliament and as a public figure must endure criticism and critical opinion but she should not be required to tolerate vulgar and abusive statements and remarks that hurt her female dignity.
Points (2) –(3) of Article Q of the Fundamental Law of Hungary states that Hungary shall ensure harmony between international law and Hungarian law in order to fulfill its obligations under international law. Hungary shall accept the generally recognised rules of international law. Points (1)-(2) of Article I of the Fundamental Law acknowledge that the inviolable and inalienable fundamental rights of MAN shall be respected and defended by the State as a primary obligation. Hungary shall recognise the fundamental rights which may be exercised by individuals and communities.
Article II of the Fundamental Law states that human dignity shall be inviolable. Every human being shall have the right to life and human dignity; embryonic and foetal life shall be subject to protection from the moment of conception.
According to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights integrated into the Hungarian legal system in the XXXI. Act of 1993 everyone has the right to freedom of expression. According to the 2nd point, the exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society (…) for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others.
According to Point 2 Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, integrated into the Hungarian legal system in the Act No. 8 of 1976, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. Point 3 states that the exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of the article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others (…).
According to Section 75 Paragraph (1) of the Civil Code, inherent rights shall be respected by everyone. These inherent rights are protected by law. Within the meaning of Section 76, discrimination against private persons on the grounds of gender, race, ancestry, national origin, or religion; injury of body and health, violation of the freedom of conscience, any unlawful restriction of personal freedom, contempt for or insult to the honor, integrity or human dignity of private persons shall be deemed as violations of inherent rights.
According to common judicial practice, criticism that is wantonly offensive or humiliating, or that is wantonly hurtful and humiliating in its phrasing, can be considered infringing ( BH 1993.89; BH 2002.352; BTD2006.1466).
Without any doubt, the 1st defendant formulated his negative opinion about the plaintiff in a deliberately malignant way, ignoring human dignity. The phrases that he used are obviously unduly humiliating, brutal beyond reason and deliberately degrading.
Based on the above elaborated aspects we claim that the defendants violated the inherent rights of the plaintiff, therefore we apply to the honorable Court to impose both objective and subjective sanctions.
We request the honorable Court to:
a) establish that infringement has taken place based on Section 75 Paragraph (1), Sections 76 and 78 and Section 85 Paragraph (3), taking into consideration point a) of Section 84 Paragraph (1) of the Civil Code.
b) to oblige the defendants to terminate the infringement and prohibit them from further infringement based on Section 75 Paragraph (1), Sections 76 and 78 and Section 85 Paragraph (3), considering point b) of Section 84 Paragraph (1), having regard to the regularity of the articles and programmes.
c) to oblige the defendants to pay 300000 HUF (1st defendant) and 500000 (2nd defendant) indemnification for non-pecuniary damages as well as its interests calculated from the 9th of February, 2012, based on Section 75 Paragraph (1), Sections 76 and 78 as well as Section 84 Paragraph (1) point e).
Based on the above explained aspects, our position is that the defendants unambiguously violated the inherent rights of the plaintiff, therefore we think that the necessity of imposing objective sanctions is not questionable and does not require further justification.
As a result of the abusive TV program of the defendants, the plaintiff was sought out by several people, she was questioned about the statements made in the program: she is continuously forced to make explanations. The vituperative nature of the TV program instigating hate against the plaintiff is unambiguous.
As a Member of Parliament, the trustworthiness and credibility of the plaintiff have outstanding significance, therefore the negative effects of discrediting and verbally abusing her in front of the wide public are hard to estimate.
According to our position the amount of the indemnification for non-pecuniary damages claimed by the plaintiff is in accordance with the current judicial practice and cannot be considered exaggerated having regard to the severe infringement that has taken place.
In view of the above we kindly apply to the the honorable Court to accept our request and to award the defendants our litigation costs.
A 1990. évi XCIII. törvény 62.§ (1) f) pontja alapján felperest illetékfeljegyzési jog illeti meg.
A Tisztelt Fővárosi Törvényszék hatáskörét a Pp. 23. § (1) bekezdésének g) pontjára, illetékességét a Pp 30. § (1) és 40. § (3) bekezdéseire alapítjuk.
Budapest, 11th of February, 2013
on behalf of the plaintiff Ulrike Lunacek