Former Liberal politician Michael Yabsley says he intends to upgrade his Wombat Hollow property out of the “substantial” proceeds of his successful case against Network Ten over a story that alleged he had been running “illegal events” (possibly Liberal Party fundraisers) at the property.

The claims were first aired in free monthly magazine Latte Life and were then the subject of a story on Channel Ten by Walkley winner Adam Walters (he’s since left the network). Yabsley wouldn’t be drawn on the exact amount of the payment, though he did tell Crikey that it’s been suggested to him it was $50,000. “It was significantly more than that,” he said.

In a statement, Yabsley said the damages and “imminent” payment of costs “brings closure to the defamatory and untruthful material broadcast by Network Ten in relation to The Wombat Hollow Forum”:

“I hope the Channel Ten Newsroom has learnt a lesson that it is simply unacceptable to broadcast material that could only be described as fast and loose.

“The inescapable fact is that the material broadcast by Channel Ten about the Wombat Hollow Forum was full of lies, provided by the spasmodic, give away, tabloid publication Latte Life.

“Channel Ten fell for Latte Life’s lies, perversions and distortions hook, line and sinker.”

Yabsley and his wife have owned Wombat Hollow since 1997 and have lived there since 2013. From the property, Yabsley makes and sells handcrafted lamps and cast-iron beds. It’s mostly an events business (weddings and other functions) run by Susie Yabsley, but since 2014 the Wombat Hollow Forum has run events featuring a range of high-powered speakers. Recent guests to the forum include Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Liberals Brendan Nelson and Nick Greiner. The NSW Greens claimed it did not have an appropriate liquor licence to run events last year — the Yabsleys reject claims they breached licensing laws on the serving of alcohol.

“One can only conclude that sections of the media and perhaps other interests are trying to harm what we are doing at Wombat Hollow,” Michael and Susie Yabsley said in an earlier September statement. Channel Ten was contacted for comment.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey