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Liam Magill case - No child support compo for duped dad

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The Australian
31 October 2006

No child support compo for duped dad
By Kate Lahey

A Melbourne man who paid child support for eight years for two children who were not his own has lost a bid for compensation for psychological damages.

Liam Neale Magill, 56, sought compensation from the Commonwealth Child Support Agency, claiming it breached a duty of care owed to him and caused
him psychological injury.

Mr Magill says the agency failed to quickly correct over-deductions taken from his salary, which left him at one stage with just $132 a week to live
on during 1999.

When he pointed this out to the agency in June, 1999, he also told them for the first time that he suspected two of the children were not his. DNA testing confirmed this later.

County Court Judge Graham Anderson dismissed Mr Magill's compensation claim today, saying there was no basis for it.

Mr Magill began paying child support for three children after he separated from his wife in 1992.

In 2000, DNA testing revealed that only one of the children was his.

In November, 2002, Mr Magill was awarded $70,000 from his ex-wife by the Victorian County Court for damages and economic loss.

However, the Victorian Court of Appeal later overturned that decision, ruling there was no evidence Meredith Magill had intended to deceive her
husband.

Mr Magill has appealed that ruling in the High Court.

In his decision today, Judge Anderson said the agency did not repay Mr Magill the money he had provided for the two children because to do so would disadvantage their mother.

Outside court, Mr Magill's partner, Cheryl King, said today's decision showed how difficult it was to take on a government agency.

She said Mr Magill was financially crippled while the agency took from June to September, 1999, to correct the deductions. Ms King said the agency should pursue the children's real father. "There's a perfectly healthy, breathing, living, biological father out there that could easily have paid for his own children," Ms King said.

"This organisation is well overdue for an overhaul and their practices are not equitable.

"One way or another, it's just not equitable for the average person like Liam Magill."

Lawyers for the Commonwealth told the court they would seek costs from Mr Magill.

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