The Aboriginal man who was wrongly accused by 7NEWS as the abductor of 4-year-old Cleo Smith has started defamation proceedings.

On Tuesday, Terrance Flowers filed a statement of claim in the Western Australia Supreme Court against Channel Seven.

Flowers, also known as Terrance Kelly, was falsely accused by 7NEWS on November 3. The network posted to Facebook, Twitter, the Seven website and on television.

In a statement O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors, who are representing Flowers, said Flowers had “nothing to do with it and was never a suspect in the case”.

“Mr Flowers recently became a father and like everyone else throughout Australia, and particularly being a parent himself, he was hoping for Cleo’s safe return,” they said.

“Being identified as responsible for her abduction and disappearance was extremely distressing to him and his family.

“It is of great concern to Mr. Flowers and his family that a major media company would proceed with a story of this magnitude without being absolutely certain as to its accuracy.”

The law firm said the effect of the “substantial error” has been “devastating”

“The publications by the Seven Network led to Mr. Flowers being made the subject of hate around the nation and the world and resulted in him being hospitalised with a severe panic attack,” they said.

The matter is now before the WA Supreme Court.

O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors has asked that Flowers and his family’s privacy is respected throughout the court process.

By Rachael Knowles