We’ve updated the Crikey register of defamation battles and would love you to send in any additions, amplifications or clarifications to [email protected] as we fight our first battle with 3AW’s Steve Price in court next March. Five new additions or corrections will win a free sub.
Sir Peter Abeles: Notorious for issuing various stopper writs against critics in the 1970s and 80s.
Larry Adler: former Herald Sun business editor Scott Hinton has a record of killing those who litigate against him. Rodney’s dad Larry Adler sued back in the late 1980s and died a couple of months later and Laurie Connell also sued and then died, although this took a few years.
Piers Akerman: Rupert Murdoch’s best friend in Australia sued Fairfax over various articles during his disastrous stewardship of the Herald Sun in the early 90s. He has emailed to point out that nothing ever got to court. However, he also sued the journalist’s union in the AJA back in his wild Adelaide days and secured a $20,000 settlement which former state secretary Bill Rust described as “the greatest sell-out in the history of the union”.
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Col Allan: The Daily Telegraph’s editor settled “to my satisfaction” a defamation case against Austereo’s Andrew Denton who suggested a crime story was only on the front page because the accused was Korean.
Kellie-Anne Allardice: she and another Cunnamulla teenager are suing film-maker Dennis O’Rourke for his damning movie.
Chris Anderson: The Optus CEO and former journalist sued The Australian’s columnist Mark Westfield in the ACT Supreme Court in 1999. The Oz settled with a grovelling apology without telling Westfield.
Paul Anderson: The BHP CEO is using Geoffrey Sher QC to sue The Australian and Mark Westfield for a column that said the “main reason” for the BHP-Billiton merger was because Anderson’s wife Kathy “detested” Australia and Australians. Ironically, it was Geoffrey Sher who helped The Australian beat Kennett’s action a couple of years back.
Ian Baxter: this candidate for the board of the Brisbane Turf Club committee is currently suing deputy chairman John Hawkins for allegedly wrongly accusing him of distributing pornography.
Tony Bell: The CEO of 3AW’s parent Southern Cross Broadcasting is suing Derryn Hinch for comments on 3AK suggesting they have exercised too much power in the Melbourne talk radio market. Southern Cross Broadcasting have just been joined as a co-plaintiff so presumably shareholders will be footing the bills to Corrs Chambers Westgarth and their dynamic defacto barrister duo Gina Schoff and Will Houghton.
Vincenzo Bellino: The Sicilian sleaze mogul in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley sued Chris Masters and the ABC for 13 years after The Moonlight State which ended up costing the ABC more than $600,000 to defend even though they won.
Noel Bishop: this NSW teacher got the Education Department to sue some of his students in 1998 for a 3 minute review that he claimed implied he had an extracurricular affair.
Joh Bjelke-Petersen: sued the ABC over allegations of corruption and rorts in his government. Sued Channel Nine and collected a $400,000 settlement which the dodgy entrepreneur said was to help him do business in Queensland. He also sued then opposition leader Tom Burns on numerous occasions and always used Ebsworths for his various other defo writs which totalled more than 20.
Neil Blewett: The former Labor Health Minister successfully sued when a magazine said he was gay. Years later he came out and now lives with his gay lover in the Blue Mountains. Will he pay back the money?
Peter Blunden: The extremely thin-skinned Herald Sun editor took out a Supreme Court writ against ABC Radio’s Jon Faine in 1999 but it was quickly withdrawn.
Alan Bond: Successfully sued the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1980s, setting back investigative pieces on him for many years until Paul Barry and Four Corners came along.
Michael Brander: the front man for racist group National Action failed in his defamation action against an Adelaide newspaper as the magistrate concluded he was a “racist of the worst kind”.
Bristile: the Perth-based tile and brick company is currently suing the Buddhist Society of WA in one of the more bizarre actions going around.
George Buschman: John Singleton’s 2GB chief executive is suing sacked Drive Time presenter Mike Jeffreys for daring to criticise him publicly about a $530,000 unfair dismissal claim against the station.
Jim Byrnes: Alan Bond’s bankruptcy mate is currently suing the Sydney Morning Herald over a Kate Askew column item in CBD.
Jim Cairns (Treasurer in the Whitlam government) and Junie Morosi (his personal secretary and assistant) sued The National Times over an article alleging they were each involved in an improper sexual relationship.
Arthur Calwell (leader of the ALP in the 1960s) sued The Sunday Review over an article that Calwell was really a traditional conservative conducting a rearguard action against progressive socialist policies favoured by Whitlam.
Richard Carlton: The head-kicking 60 Minutes Reporter is suing Media Watch over claims made last year that he pinched some footage.
Jim Carey: Sued PMP over an article in one of their Aussie trash sheets but settled last year for a payout and a big apology.
Nick Carson: This legal partner at Allen Allen & Hemsley collected $500,000 in a settlement plus $310,000 in costs after a long battle against SMH editorial writer John Slee. The court had ordered $1.3 million in damages for claims the article suggested Carson engaged in professional misconduct and a criminal conspiracy.
Rodney Cavalier: The Moree Champion paid out $150,000 to the former NSW Labor Minister in 1989 for suggesting he committed sexual offences on children.
Evonne Cawley/Goolagong sued The Bulletin over a letter to the editor.
Jenny Chandler: the founding convenor of Save Albert Park sued Jeff Kennett for defamation over some Grand Prix comments and received a five figure settlement just before the 1999 state election.
Tom and Wendy Chapman: The Hindmarsh Bridge developers in Adelaide successfully sued Green Left Weekly for $110,000 but did they ever get paid.
Greg Chappell: sued A Current Affair over threatening to repeat allegations in The Truth that he was having an affair and engaging in unusual sexual intercourse.
Anne Charleston and Ian Smith (who played Madge and Harold Bishop in Neighbours) sued The News of the World in the UK after it published a photo of a naked couple apparently engaged in sodomy, with the actors’ faces pasted onto it.
Ron Clarke: The Olympic champion sued the ABC’s 7.30 Report over a report which alleged he was building a sports complex on a toxic dump. He asked for a $75,000 settlement which the ABC refused and he’s just been awarded over $1 million.
John Coates: A chap called Dempster criticised the Olympics supremo twice in 1983 to two separate people suggesting he was unfit to be an Olympic rowing official because he gave priority to personal interest and ambition. The first publication was worth $58,000 and the second $62,000, then Coates got $35,173 in interest on top.
Peter Collins: The NSW Liberal lightweight sued a southern NSW doctor for comments when he was Health Minister.
Laurie Connell: Dodgiest merchant banker in history. Issued about 300 defo writs against various journalists but all failed because he was a crook who went broke.
Peter Costello: Successfully sued over Bob Ellis’s Goodbye Jerusalem.
Tanya Costello: Successfully sued over Bob Ellis’s Goodbye Jerusalem.
Joan Coxsedge: high profile Victorian ALP upper house member sued the Toorak Times in the 80s over a story that labelled her a traitor for revealing the home address of the ASIO boss.
John della Bosca: Labor’s Special Minister of State in NSW received about $20,000 recently after suing that wild paedophilia conspiracist Franca Arena.
Frank de Stefano: the jailed former Geelong mayor who defrauded $8 million sued some critics of Barwon Water and won a $10,000 settlement for some bumper stickers.
Jason Donovon: Sued London’s The Face magazine for suggesting he was gay.
John Elliott: sued the ABC and former Victorian Labor Minister Steve Crabb over claims the NCA was investigating him shortly before the 1990 federal election. He also sued Paul Keating but this settled in another famous Kirribilli pact that involved an FIRB decision.
Ross Emerson: the controversial Test cricket umpire sued former test player Dean Jones for saying he’d sullied Australia’s reputation during the chucking controversies a couple of years back involving Pakistan and Sri Lankan bowlers.
Andrew Ettinghausen: The rugby league player sued Packer’s magazine HQ for imputing he’d deliberately permitted a photograph to be taken of his genitals. Was awarded $350,000 at first then reduced to $100,000 on appeal but the total cost to the Packers including legal was about $2 million and ET was represented by Tom Hughes QC who had shortly earlier been dumped from his Packer retainer by Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap.
Syd Fischer: The yachtsman and Sydney hotel owner got $200,000 in 1987 against Fairfax for suggesting he was incompetent and dishonourable regarding aspects of the America’s Cup challenge.
Kel Glare: former Victorian Police Commissioner Kel Glare successfully sued Piers Akerman’s Herald Sun in the early 1990s.
Allan Goldsworthy: the Sydney barrister used Stuart Littlemore when suing former 2UE presenter Ray Hadley.
John Gorton (former Prime Minister) sued the ABC over a This Day Tonight interview by Richard Carleton in which it was implied that Gorton had instructed Malcolm Fraser to issue a false denial of a story which he knew to be true.
Bill Gurry: The highly respected Melbourne investment banker sued former Victorian Treasurer Alan Stockdale when he incorrectly alleged Gurry was mates with John Cain and should not serve on the Tricontinental Royal Commission.
Joe Gutnick: Is currently suing the US Magazine Barons in the Victorian Supreme Court over an article suggesting he had links with convicted tax scheme merchant Nachum Goldberg.
Pauline Hanson: Sued the ABC when Triple J played the Pauline Pantsdown song, ‘I’m a backdoor man’? It accused her of being a homosexual and a generally unsavoury character and the court ordered that it not be played again.
Bill Harrigan: The best known rugby league referee sued Alan Jones for suggesting some of his decisions were bad and collected a $90,000 payout earlier this year.
Bob Hawke: Has sued most outlets over the years and reputedly received truckloads in payouts which built various pools, tennis courts and new wings in his homes but can anyone actually name a journalist who went down to Hawkie.
Ces Hesse: the former Detective-Sergeant and One Nation candidate for the federal seat of Chisholm successfully sued 3AW’s Steve Price for $40,000 in the Magistrate’s court for saying the following after the WA election: “Watch the parasites now come out of the woodwork – the whingeing, whining loonies we exposed last time, the gun nuts, the no-hopers, the Johns of Brighton and Ces Hesses of this world.”
Judith Hornberg: this mother of a quadriplegic woman was arrested and charged with criminal defamation by the Queensland police after posting transcripts of a compensation court case on a community bulletin board. The matter is now being mediated and the Criminal Justice Commission has got involved.
Rex Hunt: the fishing and footy millionaire is one of the more litigious units going around. He went to court against his former manager Greg Numa, had a commercial dispute with former sponsor RAMS and also sued the Herald Sun for defamation over an Andrew Probyn piece.
Jeff Jarratt: the former NSW deputy police commissioner just picked up $420,000 from the Sydney Morning Herald after the NSW Supreme Court found the paper had defamed him over his role in Motorola picking up a big police communications contract.
Elton John: Okay, there is no Australian connection accept that Rupert had to shell out the one million quid and Elton was in Australia have throat surgery at the time in 1987 when The London Sun splashed with “Elton in Vice Boy Scandal”. Despite receiving the first writ the following day the follow-up splash was “Elton’s Kinky Kinks” followed by “You’re a Liar Elton” on day 3. A few months later the splash was “Sorry Elton” and Rupert gave then editor Kelvin McKenzie one of his biggest bollockings for the one million quid settlement.
Alan Jones: Very litigious over the years and currently running various actions against The Sydney Morning Herald.
Jeff Kennett: Issued dozens of writs including against The Age, The Australian and Packer’s Nine Network which yielded a $400,000 settlement. He also sued then Victorian opposition leader John Brumby and another Labor critic David White.
David Lange: The former NZ prime Minister sued the ABC over a Four Corners report which led to a watering down of the political comment precedent established in Theophanous.
John Laws: the 2UE cash for commenter collected $210,000 from Fairfax from a jury in 1983 which agreed the article suggested that he fraudulently benefited from land deals.
Solomon Lew: Sued the Herald Sun over a front page article detailing an alleged inside job where someone broke into the so-called “Yannon room” at ASIC. Settled with nominal payout and an apology after a couple of years.
Clive Lloyd: The former West Indian captain collected $100,000 from The Age in 1984 after a stringer wrote a column under the headline “C’mon Dollar C’mon” suggesting World Series Cricket games were fixed. All his team mates lined up for big settlement after the jury decision was upheld by the Privy Council in London.
John Marsden: former head of the NSW Law Society successfully sued Seven over a Witness and Today Tonight report alleging sexual encounters with underage boys. Faced with an $18 million legal bill after Australia’s longest defamation battle, Seven have vowed to appeal.
Glyn May: the Brisbane freelance journalist sued Media Watch and received a written apology from Jonathon Shier and an on air apology earlier this year.
Tony McAdam: the hard hitting former Melbourne columnist sued former Victorian Labor MLC Joan Coxsedge for calling him a “CIA agent” and a “man with an invented past”. Kroger and Kroger were the solicitors and Peter Costello did some of the barrister work as Cexsedge finally paid up in a settlement after 6 years.
Eddie McGuire: the Herald Sun columnist and multi-media personality is current suing The Age but not sure what the issue is.
Neil Mitchell and Peter Couchman: the 3AW egotist and former 3LO breakfast rival got into a spat back in 1997 when Mitchell said ABC staff were “fat cats who walked around eating yoghurt and drinking light ales”. The legal action started after Couchman counselled his audience that “you can’t believe what a gung-ho radio jock (Mitchell) tells his listener”. That came after Mitchell unethically broadcast the contents of an ABC envelope delivered by mistake to 3AW.
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis sued New Idea over allegations of trouble in their relationship. The matter promptly settled with an apology.
Mt Druitt school children successfully sued The Daily Telegraph for its front page picture “The Class We Failed” which Col Allan subsequently entered in the Walkleys.
Chris Murphy: The Sydney criminal lawyer turned stockmarket punter recently settled with The Daily Telegraph over an inoffensive gossip column item largely written by Lachlan Johnston but carrying Stephen Mayne’s by-line that compared him with his namesake who owns 2SM and used to manage INXS. He’s also suing an internet chatroom.
Murray Nichol: The former 3AW breakfast presenter successfully sued his old station and Steve Price for describing him on air as a “dill”.
Eddie Obeid: The NSW Labor Minister has sued various partners and critics for defamation and other things over the years.
Neil Ohlsson: A former business partner of Kerry Packer and Malcolm Edwards who sued over Paul Barry’s Packer book but settled when slight changes were agreed.
Pat O’Shane: The NSW Aboriginal magistrate successfully sued the SMH over a 1999 article headlined “Extreme views from the bench”, which the jury found defamed her on eight points, implying she was biased, incompetent and had undermined the judicial system in her role as a magistrate.
Kerry Packer: Sued truckloads of people over the years and is currently running actions against Four Corners and Fairfax.
David Parker: The former NRMA director collected $135,000 from 2UE in 1983 when they suggested he was a disastrously unsuitable candidate for election to the board.
Charles Perkins: Successfully sued the Aboriginal Land Council for almost $1 million after they suggested he had tried to destroy them.
Dr Kerryn Phelps: Sued red wine lover Michael Wooldridge for refusing to apologise after suggesting she had no medical qualifications but then withdrew it after a long lunch and an apology for the good Doctor Minister.
Steve Price: Suing Crikey and Stephen Mayne personally over a press release by Raymond Hoser that was read by less than 200 people. Mayne did not even read the offending text which was removed as soon as a complaint was lodged and has been apologised for on numerous occasions.
Brian Quinn: The disgraced former Coles Myer boss sued The Age over a Katherine Teh article that suggested he sold some shares shortly before announcing a big profit slump at the 1991 AGM. The slump was announced a few weeks earlier at the profit result so Quinn got a big payout that helped pay for his renovations.
Mike Rann: the South Australian Opposition Leader sued Premier John Olsen for calling him a liar at an impromptu news conference in a public place in 1997, in response to Mr Rann’s assertion before a federal parliamentary committee, and therefore under privilege, that Mr Olsen had been a source of material leaked to the Labor Party to damage former premier — and Mr Olsen’s factional rival — Dean Brown. Olsen is counter-suing.
Gina Rinehart: Sued Channel Seven Perth which claimed she had failed to contribute money to a medical cause and received a quickfire $100,000 settlement when Seven’s doctor source changed his story.
Rene Rivkin: The colourful Sydney stockbroker failed is his writ against the Sydney Morning Herald and the Fin Review over the Christmas Eve fire and $50 million insurance claim involving Offset Alpine and the death of the girlfriend of Rivkin’s former driver Gordon Woods. He is also suing Seven’s Witness program over a Caroline Byrne story and is suing The Australian over a story after ASIC slapped enforceable undertakings on him for doing the opposite of his share tips.
Ray Robinson: The Aboriginal leader is currently suing 2UE’s John Laws whose second defence has just been rejected by the court.
Roger Rogerson: The corrupt NSW detective got $30,000 out of Channel Nine after suing over the famous Sally-anne Huckstep interview on 60 Minutes when she accused him of murdering her drug dealing boyfriend Warren Lafranchi.
Leo Schofield: Leo was on the receiving end of a couple of writs as a food critic for Fairfax. There was the famous lobster case which is said to have cost Fairfax $150,000 and the manager, supervisor and waitress of Roberts seafood cafe sued over his review referring to “the soap addict smoking couch potato” and dive-bombing pink lorikeets. Maurice Neild QC, emboldened by his success in the Lobster Case, approached the Roberts people on seeing an equally tough review from Leo but it was settled on a technicality.
Harry Seidler: sued Patrick Cook over a Cook cartoon captioned along the lines of “The Harry Seidler Memorial Retirement Village”, which which showed a box with food being shovelled in one end and shit out the other. Harry did not win and the judge and jury were most amused.
Doug Shave: The former Court Government Consumer Affairs Minister in WA is suing his replacement from the ALP, Jim McGinty and The West Australian for things they’ve said about his gross inaction on the finance brokers scandal as it unfolded over the past couple of years.
Sonia Shepherd: this 31 year old Hervey Bay mother has just collected $120,000 in damages after she sued a national magazine for publishing a nude photograph of her without permission.
Theodore Skalkos: This Marrickville Greek newspaper proprietor was charged $300,000 by Stuart Littlemore QC to run a 35 days trial defamation that failed miserably.
Richard Sleeman: the then producer of Derryn Hinch on 2GB is rumored to have collected $300,000 from the ABC when Stuart Littlemore and Media Watch wrongly claimed he pretended to be a grieving relative to get on a flight to Hobart after the Port Arthur massacre.
Ian Smith (former Victorian Minister for Finance) sued Cheryl Harris (a staffer who became pregnant to him) and Slater & Gordon over a wide range of allegations, including allegations by Harris that Smith had bashed her and tried to force her to have an abortion.
Barry Stewart: the CEO of the Mildura Aboriginal Corporation, was awarded $115,000 by a jury after an expensive three week trial for comments on the old 3LO by Peter Couchman and others. Channel Seven were wise enough to settle early for broadcasting similar comments.
Marie Tehan: The former Victorian Health Minister sued The Age when the Kennett forces were trying to maximise the pressure on then editor Bruce Guthrie. The flurry of writs worked as Guthrie was soon sacked.
Andrew Theophanous: sued the Herald Sun over a Bruce Ruxton letter which became the basis of the political comment defence when Murdoch won in the High Court. Theophanous just lost his seat of Calwell when he ran as an independent after being disendorsed by Labor when charged with running an immigration racket.
John Tingle: Laura Tingle’s dad and Shooters Party MP in NSW John Tingle got $75,000 from 2GB for a sledge from the highly controversial Ron Casey.
Malcolm Turnbull: is reputed to have collected a handy payout from Richard Acland’s Justinian publication for suggesting that the lawyer, merchant banker and Republican had throttled his girlfriend’s cat.
Tom Uren, a senior member of the ALP in the 1960s and 1970s, sued the Sun-Herald over allegations he was duped into assisting Soviet spies in the early 1960s.
Angelo Vasta: the disgraced Bjelke-petersen appointed judge effectively closed down Robbie Swan’s magazine Mathilda with a successful defamation action a couple of decades back. His son ran for the Libs against Kevin Rudd in this federal election and suffered a 5 per cent swing against him.
Versace family: the famous designer’s family is suing Sydney private eye Frank Monte for his book on the late Gianni.
Ron Walker: has sued various people over the years including the head of the Historic Buildings Council and journalists such as Julianne Davies on The Age.
Shane Warne: hired a media monitoring company and is running “a few” defamation actions at the moment including one against the Herald Sun.
The Waterhouse family (Bill, Robbie and Gai) have variously sued the ABC, 2GB and The Sunday Herald Sun.
Kathy Watt sued The Herald Sun and The Advertiser over allegations that she deliberately shafted Lucy Tyler-Sharman for a place in the 1996 Australian Olympics team. She also sued Channel Nine in 1997 and the court was told she was “a little tart” for urinating in public and sledging competitors.
Robbie Waterhouse: The colorful Sydney racing identity sued Four Corners reporter Tony Jones and Executive Producer Peter Manning after the widely acclaimed story “Running Racing” in the 1980s.
Tony Webster: Owner of Webster Publishing sued Stephen Mayne, David Ireland and Crikey Media over an article downloaded 178 times. Infosentials bought the business but has since gone broke with creditors likely to lose about $7 million. The case settled a few months back.
Paul Whelan: The former NSW Police Minister is suing the Sydney Morning Herald over something or other. What a goose.
Nick Whitlam: Very litigious and currently suing the Sunday program for a John Lyons piece earlier this year that was celebrated in the recent 20th anniversary program.
Lloyd Williams: Another regular litigant who sued Melbourne University Architecture academic Miles Lewis, former Labor Minister David White, The Age and various other parties.
Neville Wran: Sued the ABC in the early 80s over allegations he attempted to interfere with the natural course of justice.
Nick Xenophon: the no-pokies South Australiam MP sued state Treasurer Rob Lucas and collected a $20,000 taxpayer funded settlement last year.