Alleged cult leader fails to make lawyers pay for hearing

Sunshine Coast, Australia/October 17, 2014

By Chris Calcino

An alleged Burringbar cult leader has failed in legal action against her former lawyers over an unsuccessful defamation lawsuit.

Natasha Lakaev sued The Age, The Gold Coast Bulletin and journalists Michael Bachelard and Anne-Louise Brown for defamation over articles linking her to Universal Knowledge.

The newspapers claimed the organisation was a cult which used mind-control to coerce huge sums of money from vulnerable members.

Former followers Carly McConky and Michael Greene were also accused of defamation for comments made in interviews.

Ms Lakaev told the court she had spent $95,000 on fees to legal firm Goldsmiths Lawyers but claimed they maliciously flew the coop before proceedings began, leaving her with no legal representation.

She still owed the firm more than $30,000 in unpaid invoices.

The court heard she was broke and could not afford any other representation.

Ms Lakaev's request for an adjournment, so she could muster up funds for a new lawyer, was refused last week.

She settled the matter out of court to avoid having to represent herself in the four-week jury trial.

She did not receive a cent in damages from any of the other parties.

Ms Lakaev tried to have the court force Goldsmiths Lawyers to pay the cost of the adjournment hearing.

That request was turned down on Friday.

Justice Jean Dalton acknowledged the firm had acted improperly but said their actions had no impact on her decision to refuse the adjournment.

"I think the plaintiff's case for an adjournment was strengthened by the poor behaviour of Goldsmiths Lawyers, rather than weakened by it," Justice Dalton said.

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