Australia has a crazy system of eight different defamation laws which has thrown up the following colourful cases over the years.

Sir Peter Abeles: Transport magnate who acquired his knighthood from Bob Askin over a hand of cards. Notorious for issuing various stopper writs against critics in the 1970s and 80s.  Insulated himself against much media scrutiny by forging alliances with senior media and political figures: Bob Hawke called him his best friend, while Abeles ran Ansett as a joint venture with Rupert Murdoch, running the airline into the ground just in time for Air New Zealand to buy its carcass. His corrupt activities with the TWU and his connections with the US mafia were virtually ignored by the mainstream media, partly because of his reputation for legal action. Check out this 1987 Four Corners report on Abeles by Paul Williams and Marian Wilkinson: here

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  hat nothing ever got to court. However, he also sued the journalists’ union back in his wild Adelaide days and secured a $20,000 settlement which former AJA state secretary Bill Rust described as “the greatest sell-out in the history of the union”. Piers isn’t into discrimination he’ll threaten to sue anyone. Including that well-read comrades’ journal Workers Online: Akerman  says he prints outs its weekly PiersWatch column and sends it to his lawyers. Find out more here. David Marr’s Media Watch has recently focused on Akerman’s very public anti-drugs stance.

Col Allan: The former Daily Telegraph editor (now at The New York Post) settled  “to my satisfaction” a defamation case against Austereo’s Andrew Denton who suggested a crime story was only on thefront page because the accused was Korean. Col has made a career editing balanced newspapers, and never let racial, political or any other kind of intolerance get in the way of his desire
to inform the public.

Kellie-Anne Allardice: She and her teenager cousin Taccara Hearn were suing film-maker Dennis O’Rourke for defamation over his damning doco of their wild west town, but they decided instead to lodge a complaint under the Trade Practices Act of “misleading and deceptive conduct” by O’Rourke when he sought permission from the girls and their parents to interview them.

Chris Anderson: The Optus CEO and former journalist sued The Australian’s then business 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 used 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 in 1999. The matter settled with a prominent above-the-fold apology to Anderson on the front of the business section.

Sir Robert Askin: NSW Premier for a decade from 1965. Widely rumoured he collected bribe money from corrupt police and organised crime. Cowed media outlets with threats of defamation.  When Askin died in 1981, The National Times ran a front-page story: “Askin: friend to organised crime.” In Australia you can’t defame the dead.

David Baffsky: Was awarded $68,000 in the ACT Supreme Court in 1988 with the current NSW chief justice Jim Spigelman as his counsel when the hotellier sued the SMH over an article suggesting he was heavily involved in Sydney’s Luna Park along with Abe Saffron.

Pasquale Barbaro: Not the Pasquale Barbaro involved in the baby Montana case in 2004, but a relative who sued The Age’s John Silvester out of Queensland. The defence would have been a mini Royal Commission into the family given their extensive criminal links and Pasquale was also on the nose for leaving his wife and moving in with a Thai dancer. Silvester told a recent conference he was “killed by the mafia” before the case could be heard.

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 issued against Derryn Hinch for comments on 3AK suggesting they have exercised too much power in the Melbourne talk radio
market. Southern Cross Broadcasting were joined as a co-plaintiff so presumably shareholders footed the legal bills. The case settled after now-departed 3AK director Jeff Kennett intervened
to sort things out with his old friends at 3AW.

Vincenzo Bellino: The Sicilian sleaze mogul in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley sued Chris Masters and the ABC for 13 years after Four Corners‘ “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 three 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 from the station’s then owner
Alan Bond 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, totalling more than 20.

Neal Blewett: The former colourful Labor Health Minister owned a bong in the shape of a phallus, and 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, or has it all gone up in smoke?

Peter Blunden: Is Herald Sun boss Peter Blunden the most thin-skinned editor in Australia? He took out a Supreme Court writ against ABC Radio’s Jon Faine in 1999 but it was
quickly withdrawn and he now does a weekly spot on his program.

Nick Bolkus: Sued Crikey in the Adelaide District Court and also won a settlement from Channel Seven in the late 1980s after Dennis Grant went on Tonight Livewith Steve Vizard and said that
Bolkus was involved in a “punch-up” at a post-budget drinks. Cabinet made a decision to fund Bolkus’s action but the settlement was rumored to be about $40,000 plus costs so the
taxpayer got their money back.

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 sued the Buddhist Society of WA over material published on the Buddhist Society Web site, hosted by iiNet, about a long-running dispute between the society and Bristile over the hauling of clay in trucks past the Buddhist Society’s monastery in Serpentine. Bob Carr is trying to ban companies from being able to sue for defo.

George Buschman: John Singleton’s 2GB chief executive sued sacked Drive Time presenter Mike Jeffreys for daring to criticise him publicly about a $530,000 unfair dismissal claim against the station. It was due to go to court on March 12 in Sydney but 2GB appeared to cave in and hand over a six-figure sum to Jeffreys.

Greg Butera: The Melbourne developer sued Bracks government minister Christine Campbell for alleging he’d tried to bribe her into supporting a development she opposed in Pascoe Vale. It
settled pretty quickly.

Jim Byrnes: Alan Bond’s bankruptcy mate is currently suing The Sydney Morning Herald over a Kate Askew item in CBD. Good Weekend did him over good and proper last year so it is hard to believe he’ll get anything as his reputation is complete mud after Paul Barry finished with him.

Jim Cairns: Gough Whitlam’s disastrous Treasurer and his secretary Junie Morosi sued The National Times over an article alleging they were each involved in an improper sexual relationship. They split up in the late ’80s, Cairns went on to sell his self-published books at the Camberwell market, before finally admitting the affair. He died in 2003, eight days after his 89th birthday,
althought there was no word on if he ever paid the money back.

Arthur Calwell: The federal ALP leader in the 1960s sued The Sunday Review over an article that said Calwell was really a traditional conservative conducting a rearguard action against progressive socialist policies favoured by Whitlam.

Richard Carelton: The head-kicking 60 Minutes reporter sued Media Watch over claims made last year that he pinched some footage. Justice Higgins said Carleton was defamed but didn’t award any damages on the grounds that Media Watch was entitled to make such commentary. The Packers will be picking up an estimated 500k in costs.

Jim Carey: Sued PMP over an article in one of their Aussie trash sheets in 2000 but settled in 2001 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.

Justin Charles: We’re not sure how this defamation action brought by former Richmond footballer Justin Charles against Southern Cross Broadcasting’s 6PR finished up, as this link is just to a
judgment on the Corrs attempt to get the action struck out. However, the text of actually what went to air makes for interesting reading and we’ll bring you the details of how it was resolved
if we can find out. Click here.

Evonne Goolagong-Cawley: 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?
They also won
a
$150,000
payout
from the Conservation
Council. Then there is
the Victor
Harbor
Times
which
handed over
$166,300 and a further eight
confidential
settlements
that
have
yielded
$427,309. These people have made a
lot of
tax
free
money
from
defamation. Can anyone claim to have made more than
them?

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.
Taxpayers must
have
been
thanking
Aunty’s
brilliant legal team when a
few months ago a
Melbourne
jury
awarded him
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: Sued John Halfpenny in the 80s over a speech
at
Monash
University

reported
by The Age – in which he essentially
said Costello
was
like
the
emperor with no
clothes. Cossie only sued
Halfpenny (not The
Age
)
and
reached a
tidy out of
court settlement.

Peter and 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. Toorak Times
editor Jack Paccioli
was
a
legendary
Melbourne
gutter publisher, who
successfully avoided having
to
pay
many of his
legal
losses by
appointing his dog as publisher.

Noel Crichton-Browne: the former WA Liberal senator sued Senator Sue Knowles
and
had
a
$20,000
settlement in his favour.

Anna Cronin: Kennett’s chief of staff received the
following apology
after
a
vicious
Glenn
Milne column: “In an article
published in The
Australian

on
February 24,
1997
under the heading
‘Kennett’s new chief of
staff
raises
hackles in party
room’,
Glenn
Milne discussed the appointment of
Ms Anna
Cronin
as chief of
staff
to
the Premier of Victoria. The Australian and
Glenn
Milne
apologise
to
Ms
Cronin for the allegations contained in the article
and
for
any
offence
or
embarrassment she may have suffered as a result.”

Michael Danby: The Federal Labor member for Melbourne Ports
successfully
sued
Channel
7,
Sky
News and Glenn Milne in 1998 for
alleging he engaged
in
domestic
violence.
Will
Houghton QC acted for
Seven but never thought
the
matter would
actually
get to
court.

Mark Day: Sued a journalistic critic 18 years ago and
recovered his
legal
costs
in
the
settlement but now wishes he’d never
bothered to go to
court
and
claims
he
can’t remember the person’s name.

John della Bosca: Labor’s Special Minister of State in NSW received
about
$20,000
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 Donovan: 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 a FIRB
decision.

Bob Ellis: Labor troublemaker-general. A life member in the
defamation
Hall
of
Fame.
A
walking, talking, litigation. This from Goodbye
Jerusalem
,
1987:
“I
saw John
Howard Completely out of place like
a burnt
match stick,
empty
of
personality, of
radiance, of possibility.
I stared at him
a long
time,
his
plasticine
complexion, his dull eyes,
his cheaply augmented
smile, or
like
that
joke from
1948: An empty car
pulled up, and Clement Atlee
got out.
That
man, I
thought,
will never
be Prime Minister.”

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.

James Erskine: Sued Emma Tom and Fairfax for her pithy piece
a few
years
back
describing
him
as a hitman. Was said to have involved
a large
settlement
but
this didn’t
stop
The Australian hiring her on a
big package.

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,
when the
mag
published a limp pic of some footy
players in the
shower
after a
match.
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.
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 colourful 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.

Alphonse Gangitano: The Age’s John Silvestertold 3AW that the infamous
standover man had “the brains of a flea and the genitalia to match”.
Alphonse sued but he was shot dead in his Templestowe home by
his old mate Jason Moran before the matter could get to court.

Ross Garnaut: The former Hawke adviser and ambassador to
China
sued
Liberal
Senator
Ross
Lightfoot for some comments made about
a trip to
China
where
the
Senator
appeared to be more interested in
furthering his
gold
mining
interests.
Our
informant believes it cost
Lightfoot $20,000.

Rocky Gattellari: The former boxer sued Reba Meagher, the
state ALP
member
for
Cabramatta,
for
five matters including that the MP
misquoted
extracts
from
his
1989
autobiography, The Rocky Road, in a
press release she
issued
on
February
2,
1995. The other matters related
to subsequent interviews
the
MP
conducted
with
Channel 10, the ABC and
The Sun-Herald.

Kel Glare: The former Victorian Police
Commissioner
successfully
sued
Piers
Akerman’s
Herald Sun in the early 1990s in
a
case run brilliantly
by
Holding
Redlich.

Allan Goldsworthy: The Sydney barrister used Stuart Littlemore when
suing
former
2UE
presenter
Ray Hadley.

John Gorton: The former Liberal 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.

David Gray: The former Labor MP for Syndal in the Victorian
Parliament
sued
The
Sun
News
Pictorial
but lost and was ordered to pay
the costs of
the
five
-day
hearing
after the judge said it was a fair
report of
Jeff
Kennett’s
claims
in
Parliament that Mr Gray was involved
in the
preparation
and
distribution
of
bogus Nuclear Disarmament Party
how-to-vote
cards at
the
1985
Nunawading
by-election.

Brian Gray: The late airline entrepreneur threatened to sue
The Age
for
$1
million
more
than 10 years ago for reporting that he
lost a large
amount
of
money
running
EastWest airlines and questioning
his financial skills
to run
his
new
start-up
operation Compass
Airlines. The Age‘s
editorial
manager
Peter
McLaughlin
cravenly caved
in to Gray and published an
apology
without
the
knowledge of
the
reporter, Crikey’s own Hugo Kelly. No
money
changed
hands.
Gray never
sued,
although he had plenty of time on his
hands
after
Compass
went
bust due largely
to his financial incompetence.

Bill Gurry: The 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: Sued the US magazine Barons,
published by
Dow
Jones,
in
the
Victorian Supreme Court over an article
suggesting he
had
links
with
convicted
tax scheme merchant Nachum
Goldberg. Dow
Jones
settled
the
long-running Gutnick
case with no
damages, no apology and
only a
small
amount
of costs.

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,
Australia’s
most
sued
broadcaster, for suggesting some of
his
decisions were
bad and
collected
a
$90,000 payout last 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?
Were
all his
hard-won
legal
victories
ex-gratia payments?

Ces Hesse: The former Detective-Sergeant and One Nation
candidate
for
the
federal
seat
of Chisholm won $40,000 damages from
Steve Price
in
the
Magistrate’s
Court
after the then-3AW jock said 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.” The highest
possible defo
payout in
the
Magistrates
Court is:
$40,000.

Derryn Hinch: The 3AW Drive time shock jock sued Steve Price,
the 2UE
Drive
time
shock
jock
for comments he made on a Today Tonight
program
suggesting
that
Hinch was
a
drunk following on-air revelation
made by Hinch
that
former
test
cricketer
David Hookes had separated
from his wife before
he
died.
Both
broadcasters work
for Southern Cross
Broadcasting, the action
was
lose
lose
situation for the
company and
Hinch has settled out of
court,
but
interestingly
both men have
just
signed three year contracts
with
Southern
Cross, which must
have made
them
both very happy.

Greg Hodge: The former Australian national swim coach is suing
Channel
Nine
over
claims
made on A Current Affair that he stalked a former swimming pupil. The case is
currently
before
the
NSW
Supreme Court.

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
become
involved.

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 having
throat
surgery
at
the
time in 1987 when The 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
three. 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
pound
settlement.

Darren Jones: The Warringah councillor, and former Liberal
candidate for
the
NSW
state
seat
of Manly, sued a fellow Warringah
councillor – Ruth
Sutton

for
alleged
defamatory remarks regarding his
business dealings.
Jones
used
Allens
and Tom
Hughes to run his case,
and succeeded at the jury
stage of
the
trial
which was
overturned by
Judge Judith Gibson who found that
Jones
and
the
majority faction
on
Warringah council had exploited the
naive
comments
of
Sutton, and
didn’t
really believe Jones’s claims of hurt.

Alan Jones: Very litigious over the years and currently
running
various
actions
against
The Sydney Morning Herald.

Ron Joseph: Footy player agent and power broker settled with
Triple
M
recently
after
a
Dermott Brereton spray about him being a
dodgy real
estate
agent.

Paul Keating: Sued former Liberal MP and Howard
mate
Michael
Baume
for
inaccurately
claiming his piggery had claimed a tax
break
but
withdrew
the
action when
Baume’s lawyers claimed he had
terminal
cancer.
Baume is now
alive
and well and
still kicking Keating.

Jeff Kennett: Issued lots 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.
Famously
came undone when he
lost
a defo case against the
Australian in
1999.

Duncan Kerr: Labor’s wandering minstrel loves to threaten
defamation.
The
curious
case
of
the fearless fisherman is a good
example. In the
late
1970s,
fisherman
Mick
Skrijel spoke out about
drug-running in
South
Australia.
Afterwards, he
and his
family suffered
a series of attacks.
The
NCA
investigated Skrijel’s
allegations
but in
1985 ended up charging
him
for
various offences. Skrijel
went to
jail
but was later freed and his
sentence
set
aside. In 1993,
the
federal
government asked David Quick QC to
review
the
case;
Quick
recommended
calling a royal commission into the
NCA,
but
Duncan
Kerr,
federal
Minister for Justice, declined to do
so.
Skrijel
prepared
a
leaflet
about the issue and distributed it
in
Kerr’s
electorate
in
Tasmania
during the 1996 federal election campaign.
Kerr
wrote
to
the
Tasmanian
media threatening to sue any
media
outlet
that
repeated
Skrijel’s
“false and defamatory allegations.” The
story
was
reported
in
the
Financial Review but the Tasmanian media kept quiet.

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
defence
established
in
Theophanous.

John Laws: The 2UE cash-for-commenter collected $210,000 from
Fairfax
from
a
jury
in
1983 which agreed an 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.
May had
written travel articles plugging the
airline he
worked as
a
consultant
for. But
the newspaper involved
conceded it knew of the
conflict
of
interest
and should
have revealed
the fact to its readers.

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
six years.

Ronald McDonald: The Burger outlet made clowns of themselves
when they took
on
a
gardener
and
a postman who had produced a leaflet
critical of
McDonald’s.
Helen
Steel
and
Dave Morris, members of London
Greenpeace,
defended
themselves.
Using
the
defamation trial to generate
publicity, their
leaflet has
reached a
far
greater
audience than would
have been possible
otherwise. The
classic
stopper
writ gone
wrong and a
public relations disaster
for McDonald’s,
not
least when
a High
Court
judge ruled that Maccas
‘exploit
children’
with
their
‘misleading’
advertising, are ‘culpably
responsible’ for
cruelty
to
animals,
are
‘antipathetic’ to unions and pay their
workers low
wages.
Check
out this link.

Eddie McGuire: The high profile, but sensitive TV host and Collingwood
president sued The Age over a column
that
called him
a
“hopelessly conflicted
tabloid
muckraker”. The Age settled
a
few months
back
and Eddie is telling
people he
had a big win. He
also
threatened to sue
footy
commentator Stephen
Rowe of
Adelaide 5AA
who
falsely alleged the Pies
had
bribed an umpire in a bid
to
clear
Nathan
Buckley of a striking charge.
Rowe
and the station
later
apologised
as
part of an out-of-court settlement
with the
club. Eddie
also
bared
his
litigious teeth against “stupid” comments
by former
SA
footballer
and
5AA
commentator Graham Cornes. “He (Cornes) has to
be just
a
little
bit
careful
starting to make further
insinuations
about
the
Collingwood
Football Club or me
as a person or Channel
Nine
as
a
broadcaster
because these baseless allegations
are not
going
to
be
tolerated,”
McGuire said. [As Dennis Commetti would
say,
“ominous
signs”.]

Ian McPhee: Used his own law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth
to
sue
former
CASA
chairman
Dick Smith for bagging the McPhee approach
to
aviation
safety.

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 by No Idea to
“Gimme”
and Bruce.
We
gather
their marriage is
still as solid as ever (Err,
shurely
some mistake?
Ed)

Mt Druitt school children: Successfully sued The Daily
Telegraph
for its front
page
picture
and
story:
“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.
Murphy has also
sued
an
internet chatroom.

Murray Nichol: The former 3AW Drive and Morning 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.

David Oldfield: Sued Pauline Hanson a couple of years back after their spectacular fall-out.

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.

Michael O’Sullivan: The QC sued Richard Ackland personally
for something
which
appeared
in
his
legal newsletter Justinian in the
1980s. The case ran
for
almost
three
weeks in
the Victorian Supreme
Court but Justice
Brooking
awarded
nominal
damages and
massive costs
against Ackland who
suffered
personally as a
result.

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.

Jelena Popovic:
The magistrate was awarded $250,000 for
having
been
defamed
by
Herald Sun
journalist Andrew Bolt, in an article which
implied
she
was
soft
on crime and
unfit to be a magistrate.
Justice
Bernard
Bongiorno
awarded extra
damages after
Bolt, wrongly claimed the
case
was
a
victory for free speech
after the jury’s
verdict. News Ltd
was
rebuffed
in
its latest appeal to the
High Court.

Steve Price: Collected $50,000 in a settlement from
Crikey
Media
and
Stephen
Mayne
personally over a press release by Raymond
Hoser
that
was
downloaded by
340
different people. Mayne had not read
the
offending
text,
which was removed
as
soon as a complaint was lodged
but
subsequent
publications
would likely
have
blown out the damages if
it went to
trial.

Brian Quinn: The corrupt 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.
He’s also
just
launched
three
writs
against The Courier Mail over
allegations he
had
improperly
received a
$48,000
taxpayer-funded
discount on a house he
bought
from the
housing company
he
chairs.
Robinson claimed that “the only
real
question to be
determined
will
be
the extent of damages” but The
Courier

followed up with
reports
of
Robinson
wrongly co-signing cheques for
which he
had no authority
which
were
cashed at
two Brisbane pubs.

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.

Jan Ross-Manley: The NT Aboriginal art dealer sued The Age
following
an
article
relating
to
her management of an Aboriginal art
dealership which
went
bankrupt.
She
settled
out of court for $430,000
in 2004.

Michael Roux: The former WorkCover boss in Victoria sued the
ABC in a
case
that
cost
$2
million and lasted for a record 69 days but
was
eventually
settled
with
two
apologies that were read out in court
and at the
beginning of the
7.30
Report
.

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.

Scientologists: James Packer’s favourite church sued
Melbourne Community
Radio
Station
RRR
in
1997 over comments made by a
talkback caller on the
sceptic
program
The
Liars
Club in 1997(?). It
was suggested the Scientologists
were
“worse
than
nazis”
and the
station folded meekly by apologising, axing
the
program
and
sacking
the
presenter.

Harry Seidler: Sued Patrick Cook over a Cook cartoon
captioned along the
lines
of
“The
Harry
Seidler Memorial Retirement
Village”, 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 day
defamation trial that
failed
miserably.

Mick Skrijel: The Victorian whistleblower campaigned against
the
NCA
and
drug
trafficking
and sued former Federal Justice
Minister
Duncan
Kerr
for
defamation. He
received a substantial but
confidential
settlement
that
was
generously funded
by the taxpayer.

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.

Richard Sleeman: The freelance journalist
successfully sued The
Australian
‘s
Amanda
Meade
for
a story she wrote
in her Media Diary column,
which criticised
a
story
Sleeman
wrote on
Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe.
Meade wrote
that
Thorpe
had
not
agreed to be interviewed for an article in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend
magazine the previous month, and was surprised to read
he
had
told
Mr
Sleeman
he planned to retire after the Sydney
Olympics.
NSW
Supreme
Court
judge David
Levine awarded Sleeman $434,000
in
damages
for
Meade’s story

Ian Smith: (Former Victorian Minister for Finance) sued
Cheryl
Harris
(a
staffer
who
became pregnant to him) using Slater & Gordon
over
a
wide
range
of
allegations by Harris including 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.

Mark Textor: The long-time Liberal Party pollster, now
in
an
entrepreneurial
venture
with
Lynton Crosby, lobbed a writ on
Jeff
Kennett
after the then
Victorian
Premier
made some withering criticisms
of
the Liberal
campaign to get
Chika
elected
Premier of NSW in March
1999.

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
subsequently lost his seat
of Calwell when he ran
as
an
independent
after being
disendorsed by
Labor when charged with
running
an
immigration
racket. His
recent
conviction for corruption laid bare
his past
as
a
corrupt
factional
warlord who used his political position to
obtain
money
and
sex
for
illegal acts. Will he be the last Greek-Australian
Labor
MP
revealed
to
be
a shady character?

John Tingle: Laura Tingle’s dad and Shooters Party MP in NSW
John
Tingle
got
$75,000
from
2GB for a sledge from idiot shock jock Ron
Casey. The
same
Casey
got
himself in
trouble a few years back for
attacking Nokia as
an
“Asian”
company
taking away
Australian jobs in
the technology sector.

Malcolm Turnbull: Merchant banker and Liberal PM-in-waiting
recently
settled
with
the
Fin
Review in the ACT Supreme Court over an
Andrew Main
piece
which
called
him
“part polymath, part sociopath”.
Malcolm also sued
Richard
Ackland
in 1980
over
a piece in the SMH
involving his girlfriend’s cat
that
settled out
of
court. Turnbull also sued Mark Latham for defamation after
Latham said
Turnbull
was
“unfit
for
public office”. Latham was forced
to issue a public
apology
(he
said
he
apologied to Turnbull “for any
hurt which my comments have
caused
him”)
and
has
agreed to pay
unspecified costs to Turnbull.

Tom Uren: A senior Left ALP Minister in the 1960s and
1970s,
sued
the
Sun-Herald
over
allegations he was duped into assisting
Soviet
spies in
the
early 1960s.

Various Idiots: Defamation is a perfect vehicle for loonies
to
pursue
their
mad
vendettas.
The man accused of stalking Nicole
Kidman last
month
filed
a
defamation suit
against her and various media
organisations.
Kidman
was
granted
a restraining
order against LA loony
Matthew Hooker last
year.
Hooker
brought
the $200m
lawsuit because he
believes he has been defamed
by
Kidman and
several
media
outlets
(including the New York Daily News,
20th
Century
Fox,
Miramax,
the
Guardian, but not Crikey – yet) who he feels
have
branded
him
a
stalker.

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
five per cent swing against
him.

La Familia Versace: The celebrity designer family
successfully sued
dodgy
Harbour
City
Sydney
private eye Frank Monte in
a sensational Sydney trial
over
his
book,
which
claimed the late Gianni
was a Mafia baron.

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
.

WA Police Union: In the mid-80s the Police association
introduced a levy
on
its
members
to
fund dozens of legal actions
against the author,
distributor
and
retailers
of a
book revealing
police corruption. Written by
Avon Lovell,
The
Mickelberg
Stitch

argued
that the prosecution case against
Ray, Peter
and
Brian
Mickelberg

convicted for swindling gold from the Perth
Mint –
was
based
on
questionable
evidence. Police threatened to sue
the
book’s
distributor
and
any bookseller or
other business offering it
for
sale.
The
defamation threats
quashed any general
availability of the
book.
Over
a
decade later, none of the
suits against Lovell
had
reached
trial,
but
remained active despite repeated
attempts to strike them
out
for
lack
of
prosecution.

Shane Warne: Hired a media monitoring company and is running
“a
few”
defamation
actions
at
the moment. The Herald Sun recently
settled one on
the
steps of
court
after
running a page one story
accusing him of match
fixing.
The
settlement
is
rumoured to have cost
Peter Blunden’s paper anything
from
$80,000
to
$280,000.

The Waterhouse family: (Bill, Robbie and Gai) have variously
sued the ABC, 2GB
and
The
Sunday
Herald
Sun
. Bill and Robbie were
warned off racecourses for
10
years
after
authorities
ruled they knew
in advance of the Fine
Cotton
race-fix.
No
inventive journo
could have
made up Robbie’s latest scam,
in which
he gave
a
mate odds of 500-1
on
race favourites and for which he has
(again)
been
thrown
off
racecourses by
stewards. He is appealing,
pleading
(again)
his
innocence.

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: This colourful Sydney racing identity
can’t seem to keep
out
of
the
courts.
He 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
losing about
$7
million. The
case settled in 2001
with a small
contribution to our
costs.

Mark Westfield: The most sued business journo in Australia
sued a
Manly
councillor
about
what
was said in the chamber but it was
thrown out by
the jury
after more
than
a day
of evidence and about five
hours of
deliberation. The
councillor
in
question
counter-sued
Westfield over remarks he
made about her in
a letter
to
the Manly
mayor
but withdrew her action after he
lost his case
against her.

Paul Whelan: The former NSW Police Minister who managed to
run
a
profitable
and
expansive
hotel and gambling empire while
operating the
police
ministry
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 about his time at the NRMA that was celebrated in
the
recent
20th
anniversary
program.
Also successfully sued and settled with 2GB and
his
former
PR
consultant, Rob Dempsey, who shelled out $100,000.

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.

Ellen Wren: The wife of John Wren, a multi-millionaire
businessman
and
power
broker
in
the Australian Labor Party had 34 year
old author
Frank
Hardy
arrested
and
charged with criminal libel over
his book Power
Without
Glory.

Nick Xenophon: The no-pokies South Australiam MP sued
state
Treasurer
Rob
Lucas
and
collected a $20,000 taxpayer funded
settlement
last year.

Please email through any corrections or additions to smayne @crikey.com.au.

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