• A British colonial-themed restaurant that closed in 2017 has had it's legal bid against SBS dismissed. (Facebook)Source: Facebook
The Brisbane restaurant described itself as "inspired by the stylish days of the empirical push into developing cultures of the world."
Shahni Wellington

15 Jul 2021 - 3:00 PM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2021 - 3:02 PM

The owners of a British colonial-themed restaurant have had their defamation case thrown out of a Gold Coast court.

Angela and Mark Kennedy of 'British Colonial Co.' filed the legal bid against the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) after closing it's doors in 2017.

The restaurant received backlash over its decision to theme itself on colonialism, a story reported on by SBS Viceland's The Feed.

On Wednesday in Queensland's Southport District Court, a jury dismissed the claims against the broadcaster, with the coverage found to be 'not defamatory.'

The restaurant owners were seeking damages up to $700,000.

The video, titled 'British Colonial Co celebrates colonialism & bad taste,' was published to SBS On Demand, Youtube and Facebook in September 2016.

It referenced a variety of online responses to the restaurant, including two public statements made by the owners and plaintiffs, Angela and Mark Kennedy.

It included contextual information on the Frontier Wars, which saw estimated tens of thousands of Aboriginal peoples killed during colonial violence, as well as the history behind the racially-charged act of 'blackface.'

The trial heard from the SBS' sole witness, Ngiyampaa Weilwan woman and Walkley award-winning journalist Laura Murphy-Oates.

Describing her researching process to the court, Ms Murphy-Oates referenced the public reaction to the story, especially amongst journalists and writers of colour who found it "hurtful" and "insensitive."

"The segment was to educate and express my opinion about the appropriateness of using colonial themes considering the incredibly dark history of colonisation in Australia and the way that it impacts Indigenous people in particular to this day," Ms Murphy-Oates told the court via telecom. 

Among the dismissed claims was that the segment conveyed meanings that the plaintiffs “glorified” and “ignore and deny” a period of Australia’s history which saw hundreds and thousands of Indigenous Australians die in vicious and bloody battled.

They also alleged the segment conveyed that the business owners sought to exploit and profit from the suffering of Indigenous Australians.

SBS denied the publication was defamatory, and in any event said the publication was defensible on the basis of honest opinion.

At the adjournment of the three-day trial, presiding Judge David Kent described it as a "relatively complex case, although not a long case".

Legal costs are to be determined.