The Spectator Australia is facing an uncertain future after an enormous defamation settlement was made yesterday, in favour of Toowoomba's rich-lister Wagner family.

London-based The Spectator, which owns the Australian edition, settled the defamation case for $572,674 -- one of the highest defamation payouts since Australia introduced uniform laws in 2006. Four Wagner brothers (John, Neill, Denis and Joe) sued over an article in the magazine by Nick Cater that they said implied that a quarry they owned was responsible for the deaths of 12 people in Grantham during the 2011 floods. They were cleared of responsibility by a commission of inquiry in 2015.

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