Tamás Mellár has won a lawsuit filed against him by pro-Fidesz think-tank Századvég. The Fidesz- and government-funded think-tank filed suit against Mellár after he gave an interview in which he accused the organization of being involved in money laundering.
The Budapest Court ruled that, as a political consultancy, Századvég is a public figure just like any politician, and that in this capacity the organization must tolerate any extreme opinion people may have of it. Századvég may still appeal the court’s decision.
Mellár worked for Századvég between 2010 and 2011. In October 2014 he gave an interview to Hungarian newspaper Népszabadság accusing the think-tank of being a money laundering operation.
“[Századvég] received orders from the government ministries to do this and that kind of research,” he said. “We even received orders that I, as director of research, said we couldn’t perform because we simply don’t have this kind of understanding. Don’t worry about it, they said, do it anyway. Throw something together anyway because they’ll pay for it.”
Századvég filed the suit against Mellár for tarnishing their good reputation, alleging he defamed them by calling them money launderers and stating they don’t perform legitimate work.
The law office of LMP co-chair András Schiffer defended Mellár in court. They argued that Mellár’s statements weren’t a declaration of facts. The statements were formulated as opinions. The defense pointed to the content of the interview as proof because the theme of the interview had to do with criticizing the Orbán government. Furthermore, the defense argued, Mellár did not accuse Századvég of actually taking part in specific criminal activities.
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