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. His questionable 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.
Piers Akerman: one of Rupert Murdoch's best friends in Australia sued Fairfax over various articles during his disastrous stewardship of the Herald Sun in the early 90s. 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".
Dr Susan Alberti: high-profile $220,000 win by the Western Bulldogs AFL club director in 2009 against Channel 9 for comments made by Sam Newman and Garry Lyon on The Footy Show. Alberti had been described as a liar and hypocrite after she took a stand as 1 of 5 female AFL directors who wrote a letter complaining of Newman's groping skit of a mannequin with the face of a female journalist stapled on it. Channel 9 apologised. Newman did not. Lyon was silent.
Col Allan: the former Daily Telegraph 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. Col also once threatened to sue Crikey so we backed off quickly.
Chris Anderson: the former 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 former 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: the 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 Jim Spigelman as his counsel when the hotelier sued The SMH over an article suggesting he was involved in Sydney's Luna Park along with Abe Saffron.
John Barilaro: the NSW deputy premier sued comedian Jordan Shanks-Markovina, aka FriendlyJordies, in 2021 over two Youtube videos which he claimed portrayed him as "a corrupt conman".
Marcus Bastiaan: alleged Liberal Party branch stacker in Victoria who sued The Age and 60 Minutes after a strong Nick McKenzie hit in 2020.
Beautyfull Cosmetic Medical Clinic: successfully sued employee Clare Hayes and who was ordered to pay $82,500 in damages in 2021 over a disparaging Instagram post. See SMH story.
Tony Bell: the former CEO of 3AW's old 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 colourful Italian 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 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 Federal Labor Health Minister successfully sued when a magazine for saying he was gay and then came out years later.
Peter Blunden: the then Herald Sun editor took out a Supreme Court writ against ABC Radio's Jon Faine in 1999 but it was quickly withdrawn.
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 Live with 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 rumoured to be about $40,000 plus costs so the taxpayer got their money back. Crikey eventually settled in 2002 for $25,000 with no apology required.
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. Also famously gave Sir John Bjelke-Petersen a $400,000 defamation settlement to help get business done in Queensland, a comment which sparked a TV licence review at the time given Bondy owned Channel Nine.
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.
Wilfred Burchett: The communist journalist who died in 1983 sued Jack Kane of the Democratic Labour Party for $1m in 1974 for calling him a KGB agent. The NSW Supreme Court case remains Australia's biggest international defamation trial. Witnesses appeared from eight countries. POWs from the Vietnam and Korean Wars, and WW2 veterans testified, along with leading journalists, politicians and KGB agents. The jury decided against Burchett's libel charge and the Gorton government refused to renew Burchett's Australian passport.
: the then Macquarie Radio CEO sued sacked Drive Time presenter Mike Jeffreys for daring to criticise him publicly about a $530,000 unfair dismissal claim against the station. Never went to court and 2GB caved in and handed over a generous six-figure sum to Jeffreys. Greg Butera
: the Melbourne developer sued Victorian 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
: bankruptcy mate of Alan Bond's sued The Sydney Morning Herald
over a Kate Askew item in CBD. Good Weekend
subsequently did him over thoroughly on the cover in a Paul Barry piece a couple of years later. Jim Cairns
: he was 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 1980s, 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, although he never 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.
: sued PMP over an article in one of their trashy magazines in 2000 but settled in 2001 for a payout and a big apology. Richard Carleton
: the late 60 Minutes
reporter sued Media Watch
over claims 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 picked up an estimated $500,000 in costs. Sean Carolan:
personal trainer who sued Fairfax media for four articles which he alleged tarnished his professional reputation. He was successful and received $300,00 in general damages in 2016 by the Supreme Court of NSW. 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 wrongly suggesting he committed sexual offences on children. Justin Charles
: the former Richmond footballer was the first player to be suspended for using steroids. He sued 6PR in Perth but we're not sure how it was resolved.
former owner of King-Cross nightclub sued Fairfax media for several allegations regarding activities that occurred at the nightclub during her ownership. The Supreme Court of NSW rewarded for $100,000 in damages. 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. Chinese Community Social Services Centre Inc:
the operator of the On Luck Chinese Nursing Home in Donvale sued Manningham councillors Stephen Mayne and David Ellis in February 2011 in the Victorian Supreme Court. The Mayne case settled in late 2011 but the Ellis case didn't finally wrap up for almost a decade.
: 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 Melbourne jury awarded him over $1 million.
: 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. Coates also successfully Alan Jones and collected a $360,000 settlement over some comments related to the 2004 Australian rowing performance at Athens. See The Australian.Peter Collins
: the former NSW Liberal leader and state Treasurer sued a southern NSW doctor for comments when he was Health Minister in the early 1990s.Laurie Connell
: dodgiest merchant banker in history. Issued about 300 defo writs against various journalists but none were successful because he was a crook who went broke. Stephen Conroy:
the Labor senator and Federal Communications Minister once sued 774 ABC Melbourne morning presenter Jon Faine. Nicole Cornes:
the former ALP candidate and wife of South Australian football identity Graeme Cornes sued TV funnyman Mick Molloy after Network Ten's Before The Game show
allegedly insinuated she had slept with former AFL player Stuart Dew. The judge awarded $85,000 after a trial run by Stuart Littlemore.
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
. See judgment.
: 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
: Jeff 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 wrongly alleging he engaged in domestic violence. Mark Day
: sued a journalistic critic in the mid-1980s 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
: former Labor NSW general secretary and later Minister received about $20,000 after suing that wild conspiracy theorist MP Franca Arena. Frank de Stefano
: the jailed former Geelong Mayor who defrauded $8 million sued some critics of Barwon Water in the 1990s and won a $10,000 settlement for some bumper stickers.Jason Donovan
: sued London's The Face
magazine for suggesting he was gay.
the Defence Minister sued unemployed refugee advocate Shane Bazzi
in 2021 for a tweet suggesting that he was a "rape apologist". Judge awarded $35,000 in damages but he didn't recover all his costs. See Guardian coverage.
: 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
: the late Labor troublemaker-general. A life member in the defamation Hall of Fame. Goodbye Jerusalem
generated wins for Tony Abbott and Peter Costello.
: the former Test cricket umpire sued former Test player Dean Jones for saying he'd sullied Australia's reputation during the chucking controversies involving Pakistan and Sri Lankan bowlers. James Erskine
: sued Emma Tom and Fairfax for a piece describing him as a hit man. Was said to have involved a large settlement but this didn't stop The Australian
subsequently 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 picture 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.
the journalist, BLM activist and former Greens candidate successfully sued Mark Latham for accusing him of “aiding and abetting Islamic terrorism” and fostering “anti-white racism in Australia”. Osman was represented by Josh Bornstein from Maurice Blackburn and the case settled in 2018
, costing Latham more than $100,000 in costs and damages.
: 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. Joel Fitzgibbon and Helen Lui:
Kevin Rudd's former Defence Minister and his Chinese benefactor sued The Age
in 2010 for claims about their financial and political relationship. Mark French:
successfully sued both the Herald and Weekly Times in 2010 and radio station Triple M in 2008. The newspaper was ordered to pay almost $200,000 in damages. Two Herald Sun
articles published in 2004 labelling him as a disgraced drug cheat were found to be defamatory. He sued Triple M who labelled him as un-Australian and a drug cheat which resulted in French being awarded $350,000 damages and $57,000 in legal costs.Alphonse Gangitano:
journo John Silvester
from The Age'
told 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.
the Melbourne-based criminal lawyer sued alt-right activist Avi Yemini in 2021 over a video on Facebook, Youtube and the Rebel News website which made claims against her and her husband Lansley Simon. Ross Garnaut
: the former Hawke adviser and ambassador to China sued former 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
. Chris Gayle
: West-Indian cricketer sued Fairfax media for articles published in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra for allegations that he exposed himself to a massage therapist at the 2015 World Cup. He was successful and received $300,000 in damages in 2018. Kel Glare
: the former Victorian Police Commissioner successfully sued Piers Akerman's Herald Sun
in the early 1990s in a case run by Holding Redlich.
: Sydney man who successfully argued that posts made in a Sydney community Facebook group alleged he was a danger to women and a stalker. 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. 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.Mamdouh Habib:
the former Guantanamo Bay inmate claimed that he was defamed by the News Ltd columnist Piers Akerman. The report implied he had made false claims about whether he had been in Egypt or Afghanistan and that he had supported terrorists.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. Raelene Hardie:
strip club owner sued the Herald Sun
for allegations that Victoria police were investigating the club for affiliation with motor bike gangs. She was successful and received a total of $250,000 in damages in 2016.
: 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.
: 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. Peter Haertsch:
the Sydney surgeon sued A Current Affair
over a report in August 2009 which alleged the professor had been responsible for a Gold Coast meter maid's "botched'" breast augmentation. The report also incorrectly alleged Dr Haertsch had been banned from practising in Queensland.
: 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 former 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 worked for Southern Cross Broadcasting, so the action was a lose-lose situation for the company and Hinch settled out of court.Greg Hodge
: the former Australian national swim coach sued
Channel Nine, November 28, 2006, over claims made on A Current Affair
that he stalked a former swimming pupil. Dyson Hore-Lacy:
the Melbourne barrister collected a $630,000 judgment
from Allen & Unwin for publishing Phil Cleary's book, Getting Away With Murder
, after the jury agreed that it implied he conspired in the fabrication of a defence by killer James Ramage. Hore-Lacy also sued a couple of newspaper for criticisms of his performance as the last President of the Fitzroy Football Club. 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. Jeff Jarratt
: the former NSW deputy police commissioner 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.
: in 2020 Jarratt launched a defamation claim against The Daily Telegraph
regarding a front page story about his false rape allegations. This case is set to go ahead in late 2020. 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 running various actions against The Sydney Morning Herald
. He sued
Fairfax over an article claiming cash for non-comment. It was claimed that he would cease on-air criticism of AMP in return for the AMP agreeing to provide a substantial benefit to the South Sydney Rugby League Club of which he was Director of Football. Many years later he issued proceeding against SBS over an Alex Jones piece in The Feed which Jones claimed suggested he was a racist and various other things. The case settled in December 2020.Ron Joseph
: footy player agent and power broker settled with Triple M 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 case against The Australian
in 1999, but the Murdochs went soft on one of their favourite politicians, not collecting as fully on costs as they were entitled to. Fast forward to 2021 and Jeff Kennett remains a favoured Herald Sun
the Liberal partisan and News Corp columnist sued The Chaser
over an image of him having sex with a dog and won a $35,000 settlement, plus an on-air apology and his legals in 2014.Andrew Laming:
the controversial Federal Liberal backbencher from Queensland sued 4 Corners
reporter Louise Milligan in 2021 over a private tweet. She rejected a request for an early apology and ended up settling with her employer, the ABC, ultimately spending about $200,000 on the exercise, including a $79,000 damages payment. This sent various News Corp dancing bears into a frenzy of outrage.
: 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 retired 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.
the Herald Sun
in July 1998, 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.
sued The Age
in 2015 over allegations he had Mafia connections and settled in 2016 for an apology noting he was a hard working family man who had never been charged with a criminal offence.
: former head of the NSW Law Society successfully sued
Seven in June 1999, 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 appealed. Marsden won in court, receiving about $500,000 for injury to his reputation plus millions in costs.
: the Brisbane freelance journalist sued Media Watch
and received a written apology from Jonathon Shier and an on air apology. 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 & Kroger were the solicitors and Peter Costello did some of the barrister work as Coxsedge finally paid up in a settlement after six years.
: 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.
the WA Labor Premier counter-sued Clive Palmer
for defamation for a series of comments he made in interviews about their disputes over WA iron ore contracts and border closures.
: 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 and Eddie told 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. 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. Chris Mitchell:
the combative editor in chief of The Australian
issued the first Twitter defamation writ in Australia in late 2010 against Canberra academic Julie Posetti over a tweet which alleged the paper's former rural affairs writer had complained about how Mitchell had interfered with her climate change coverage leading up to the 2010 Federal election.Neil Mitchell and Peter Couchman
: the 3AW veteran 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 controversially 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 and undisclosed payout.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. It was a disgrace!
Jenny and David Mulholland:
Jenny, the former Liberal City of Banyule mayor, sued her former councillor colleague, Craig Langdon (a former Victorian Labor MP), over dirt sheets published in the toxic 2020 Banyule local elections. Her son David, a failed Liberal candidate at multiple elections, was also party to the action. See local paper coverage
. The case settled with Langdon having to cover costs and pay a fine for contempt of court.Chris Murphy
: the Sydney criminal lawyer turned stockmarket punter settled with The Daily Telegraph
over an inoffensive gossip column item in the late 1990s largely written by Lachlan Johnston but carrying Stephen Mayne's by-line that compared him with his namesake who owned 2SM and used to manage INXS. Murphy has also sued an internet chatroom, plus extracted a $110,000 judgment against The Daily Telegraph
in 2021 for an Annette Sharp piece
suggesting he was too old to practice law.Murray Nichol
: the former 3AW Drive and Morning presenter successfully sued his old station and Steve Price in the 1990s for describing him on air as a "dill". Eddie Obeid
: the former NSW Labor Minister turned jailbird has sued various partners and critics for defamation and other things over the years, including The Sydney Morning Herald. 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.
: sued Pauline Hanson for defamation after their spectacular falling out in the early 2000s over claims by Hanson that they had sex. Also threatened other outlets many years later over the claims, as is explained in this Daily Mail piece.
: the NSW Aboriginal magistrate successfully sued The SMH
in March 2004,
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.
: 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. Clive Palmer:
the billionaire has sued numerous people including Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser for comments they made in early 2009 suggesting he had "bought" the Liberal National Party. In 2022 one of his many writs finally got to court in Sydney when he took on WA Premier Mark McGowan
: 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. Kerryn Phelps
: sued John Howard's Health Minister Michael Wooldridge for refusing to apologise after suggesting she had no medical qualifications but then withdrew it after a long lunch and an apology.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 when 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.Christian Porter:
the former Federal Attorney General sued the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan for its coverage of historical rape claims against him but settled for a minor public statement and partial contribution to his costs (the mediation only) in May 2021 ahead of what was likely to be a bruising 6 week trial.Steve Price
: collected $50,000 in a settlement
from Crikey Media and Stephen Mayne in February 2002 over a press release issued by political candidate Raymond Hoser that was published on Crikey as a post script at the bottom of a separate longer item which was only viewed about 340 times before being taken down. Mayne had not read the offending text about Price at the bottom of Hoser's press release which was removed as soon as a complaint was lodged. Whilst the initial defamation was inadvertent and viewed by a very a small group, the subsequent public campaign against Price for taking action in the Victorian Supreme Court probably would have led to substantial damages. Price is one of Australia's most litigious journalists having also sued Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett, Adnews
and Dr Turf, whilst also threatening court action against others. 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 controversial Templestowe renovations. Mike Rann
: the then 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. Moreover, he sued Channel Seven over Mark Riley's big piece about his alleged affair with Michelle Chantelois but then settled with an apology of sorts shortly before the 2010 election campaign started.
Bob Hawke's former Defence Minister sued the ABC in the early 1990s over an interview in which East Timor independence activist and subsequent President Jose Ramos-Horta called him a liar. It settled for not much shortly after Labor surprisingly won the 1993 election. Lloyd Rayney:
sued the State of Western Australia for statements made by the senior police officer following the discovery of Rayney's wife's body. The court held that an ordinary reasonable person would read between the lines and believe that Rayney murdered his wife. Rayney was successful and received $1.25 million in damages for loss of income, as well as an additional $600,000 for distress.
the former SBS journalist sued Federal Parliamentary researcher Geoff Wade in 2021 over tweets suggesting he was a pro-China operative. See The Australian
. 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.
the Victoria Cross winner sued Nine over a series of pieces alleging he was involved in illegal killings when serving in Afghanistan.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
. Geoffrey Rush:
sued the Daily Telegraph
for allegations the newspaper published regarding inappropriate behavior with a fellow unnamed cast member of the King Lear theater production. Rush was rewarded $2.9 million in damages in 2019. The Daily Telegraph
lost the appeal in 2020.
: 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
: sued Melbourne Community Radio Station RRR in 1997 over comments made by a talkback caller on the sceptic program The Liars Club
. It was suggested the Scientologists were "worse than Nazis" and the station folded meekly by apologising, axing the program and sacking the presenter. Barbara Scott:
WA Racing Chief sued for Facebook allegation made by Dean Baring alleging she will be fired after embarrassing records were released. The post reached thousands of people and caused vile comments including sexual harassment. Scott was successful and received $140,000 in damages in 2018.Harry Seidler
: sued Patrick Cook over a 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.
the former City of Melbourne councillor subsequently became chair of the Celtic Club where he sued his deputy, Felicity Allen, in 2021 for making some ridiculous claims about him not being Irish enough and being a big drinking failed councillor. Doug Shave
: the former Court Government Consumer Affairs Minister in WA sued
his replacement from the ALP, Jim McGinty and The West Australian
in October 2000,
for things they said about his alleged inaction on what at the time was known as the finance brokers scandal.Damian Sheales:
Barrister Sheales sued The Age
for critical articles which discussed his handling of a previous case regarding horse trainers. Sheales was successful and received $175,000 including aggravated damages in 2017. Sonia Shepherd
: this 31 year old Hervey Bay mother collected $120,000 in damages after she sued a national magazine for publishing a nude photograph of her without permission. Jacin Sinclair:
the late NRL player and three of his colleagues sued fellow player John Elias over his claims in 2010 about an alleged match fixing plot that was abandoned at the last minute. See this story
for details.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 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. The freelance journalist also successfully sued The Australian
's Amanda Meade in October 2004 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 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:
the former Victorian Minister for Finance sued
his former chief of staff Cheryl Harris in October 1996, who used Slater & Gordon to make a wide range of allegations by Harris which almost sent the firm under. It was a messy episode for current Federal Court judge Bernard Murphy who defected to Maurice Blackburn as part of the fallout from this battle.
the Victorian Labor factional powerbroker and branch stacker was kicked out of the Labor Party after a 60 Minutes decapitation
by Nick McKenzie in 2020. He responded by launching defamation proceedings in June 2021.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, now 774 ABC Melbourne, by Peter Couchman and others. Channel Seven were wise enough to settle early for broadcasting similar comments.
the billionaire concrete magnate sued Shane Dowling, the proprietor of Kangaroo Court of Australia and ended up putting him in jail in 2019. Also funded the Ben Roberts Smith action against Nine in 2021. Marie Tehan
: the late Victorian Health Minister sued The Age
in the late 1990s 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 Kerry Chikarovski elected Premier of NSW in March 1999. Textor also extracted an apology and 5-figure settlement from Crikey in 2009 over a Bernard Keane piece.
the Herald Sun
in October 1994 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 subsequent 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.
issued proceedings in 2008 against a French newspaper which aired drug allegations but then dropped the case in 2010.John Tingle
: the Shooters Party MP in NSW and father of political journalist Laura Tingle got $75,000 from 2GB for a sledge from shock jock Ron Casey.
after comfortably winning a preselection contest against Scott Morrison ahead of the 2007 Federal election, was subjected to a Morrison co-ordinated smear campaign. Successfully sued multiple outlets, including The Daily Telegraph.
: former merchant banker settled with The AFR
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 and agreed to pay unspecified costs to Turnbull. Tom Uren:
a senior Left ALP Minister in the 1960s and 1970s, sued Sydney's Sun-Herald
over allegations he was duped into assisting Soviet spies in the early 1960s.
took objection when The Australian
exposed his criminal conduct during the war in Croatia. Lost his defamation cost in the NSW Supreme Court but still cost News Corp $1.5 million in legal costs that will never be recovered. Was eventually jailed in 2017 and then released in March 2020
. 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 later ran for the Liberals against Kevin Rudd.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. Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority:
Sue Winneke was the chair in 1999 when The Age
published some Tim Costello comments that it was the weakest Victorian statutory body in the last 10 years. Both Tim and the Inter
Church Gambling Taskforce, which he spoke on behalf of, were issued with defamation proceedings. Tim's Baptist Union
insurance was to cover the defence and Winneke hired Jeffrey Sher QC. Then
Bracks won a shock election victory in October 1999 and the totally inappropriate VCGA defamation proceedings were quickly dropped.Don Voelte:
the former Woodside and Seven Group CEO sued the ABC over a report on The Business
after he departed as chair of Nexus Energy and then launched a bid through Seven.
sued Nationwide news for inappropriate Facebook comments made on public posts. Found the news-outlet could be considered the primary publisher of the comments. This was an Australian first and questions the obligation of social media companies.
: the brother made claims that Alan Jones had made 32 defaming statements between 2014 and 2015 on several Habour Radio stations regarding flooding that occurred in Lockyer Valley in 2011, particularly the death of 12 people. The brothers recieved $3.7 million in damages in 2018 becoming the largest payout in Queensland defamation history.
: the late property developer, Melbourne Lord Mayor, Liberal Party Treasurer and Fairfax Media chairman 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. Shane Warne
: the Herald Sun
settled one case
in April 1999 on the steps of court after running a page one story accusing him of match fixing. The settlement is rumoured to have cost the paper more than $100,000. He did issue multiple other writs over the years.The Waterhouse family
: 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. Robbie sued Four Corners
reporter Tony Jones and executive producer Peter Manning after the widely acclaimed story "Running Racing" in the 1980s. See this judgment
when Gai Waterhouse took on News Ltd in 2001.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.
The Federal National Party MP for Mallee and two colleagues won a case against conspiracy theorist
Karen Brewer who falsely accused her of being “a member of a secretive paedophile network”. The judge ordered that damages of $875,000 be paid. It never was.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 then went broke as creditors lost about $7 million. The case settled in 2001 with Webster contributing $1000 to Mayne's 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 whilst a Minister, sued The Sydney Morning Herald.
: sued the Sunday
program for a John Lyons piece about his time as NRMA President which was settled confidentially. Also successfully sued and settled with 2GB and his former PR consultant, Rob Dempsey, who shelled out $100,000. Lloyd Williams
: the property developer, multiple Melbourne Cup winner and mastermind of Crown Melbourne was another regular litigant who sued Melbourne University Architecture academic Miles Lewis, former Labor Minister David White, The Age
and various other parties. Rebel Wilson:
Wilson sued Bauer Media for articles published in the Woman's Day, Women's Weekly, OK Magazine and New Weekly which alleged she had lied about her age, real name and childhood. She was originally rewarded a payout for $4.7 million in 2018 becoming the biggest defamation payout in Australian history. However this decision was revoked on appeal to the High Court in 2019 after they found there wasn't sufficient evidence that Wilson had lost work due to the articles.
Chau Chak Wing
: Chinese-Australian billionaire sued Fairfax Media who alleged Wing build his Australian empire by making illicit payments to government officials after bribing a former UN president. He was successful and was rewarded $280,000 in damages.
: 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 ALP, had 34-year-old author Frank Hardy arrested and charged with criminal libel over his book Power Without Glory.
the no-pokies South Australian MP sued state former South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas and collected a $20,000 taxpayer funded settlement.
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