Lachlan Murdoch mocked on billboards by Crikey, court docket instructed as defamation battle heats up

In a defence filed in court docket on Tuesday, Crikey disputed that the article on the centre of the case glad a brand new critical hurt check that’s now regulation in most elements of Australia, together with in NSW the place the trial shall be held.


Underneath that check, which is geared toward removing trivial claims, Murdoch should present the article “brought on, or is more likely to trigger, critical hurt” to his fame.

Chrysanthou mentioned the article accused Murdoch of “underhanded criminality which resulted in dying” and it was “farcical” to counsel the intense hurt threshold was not met. However Hodge mentioned critical hurt can be in difficulty within the trial.

Murdoch alleges the article conveys a spread of false and defamatory meanings, together with that he “illegally conspired with … Trump to incite an armed mob to march on the Capitol” on January 6, 2021.

Crikey denies any of 14 defamatory meanings alleged by Murdoch have been conveyed within the article by political editor Bernard Keane, headlined “Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator”.

If the court docket finds a minimum of one that means was conveyed and the intense hurt check is glad, it’s going to contemplate defences pleaded by Crikey. This features a new public curiosity defence that has not but been examined in Australia within the context of a full trial.

Underneath the brand new public curiosity defence, which began in NSW in July final 12 months, Non-public Media should show the article involved a problem of public curiosity and it “fairly believed that the publication of the matter was within the public curiosity”.

Chrysanthou mentioned the brand new defence appeared “fairly ineffective” and will show tougher for media retailers to ascertain than present defences.

Wigney mentioned the general public curiosity defence “appears to take away” the requirement {that a} writer acted fairly, as is the case beneath the defence of certified privilege. That is an older public interest-style defence.


However Chrysanthou argued it did import ideas of reasonableness, together with by way of an inventory of things which may be thought of by the court docket.

“This shall be a problem for an additional day,” Wigney mentioned.

Murdoch’s legal professionals are searching for to strike out elements of Crikey’s defence, a transfer resisted by the media outlet on Friday.

The court docket heard that any trial will begin on March 27 with a nine-day estimate. The events will attend pre-trial mediation.

The lawsuit was filed in opposition to Non-public Media, chaired by Eric Beecher, Keane and Crikey editor-in-chief Peter Fray.

In its written defence, Non-public Media says it fairly believed the article was within the public curiosity. Fray and Keane believed the references to the Murdochs have been “self-evidently hyperbolic” and “nobody would learn the phrases actually as suggesting that the Murdochs have been responsible of legal conspiracy”, the defence says.

The events return to court docket on October 10.

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