Victorian Supreme Court judge Hartley Hansen this morning found in favour of Westpac in its action against Steve Vizard’s former book-keeper Roy Hilliard — but reserved his harshest words for former funnyman turned inside trader Steve Vizard.

The judge ordered Hilliard to pay Westpac 75% of the $3 million in dispute, plus interest. But although Hansen found in Westpac’s favour, it was Westpac’s star witness — Vizard — who was strongly criticised for his performance in the dock.

As The Age reports:

“The consistent strand is a lack of candour,” adding that Vizard’s description of his working relationship with Hilliard was “fashioned”.

“The tenor and effect of it was to minimise the contact between them, and maximise the impression that Mr Hilliard was much left to his own devices.”

The judge, in another area, described Vizard’s evidence as ranging “from false denial to obfuscation and feigned forgetfulness”.

“The performance is to be understood as part of the attempt to deflect the court from a true understanding of Mr Hilliard’s role and authority in writing cheques.”

Further, Hansen described Vizard as “an unreliable witness”. Relief seems to be the main response from the Vizard camp: “The Vizard family are pleased that these events are now behind them,” came a statement through their lawyers this morning.

The decision follows Hilliard’s conviction last year on false accounting charges.

Peter Fray

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