Alan Jones’ barrister has claimed some of the comments made by the veteran broadcaster against the Wagner family “are unable to be defended” during a court hearing.
Brothers Denis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner are suing Jones to the tune of $4.8 million for suggesting they were responsible for the deaths of 12 people during the 2011 Grantham floods due to a wall of a quarry they owned collapsing during the natural disaster.
Jones made the accusations across 32 different broadcasts on stations 2GB and 4BC, as well as once on Sky News, during 2014 and 2015.
Harbour Radio (which employs Jones), 4BC and journalist Nicholas Cater are also facing a lawsuit.
During the most recent hearing, Justice Peter Flanagan said he had seldom come across a case where the defendants in a defamation case continued to say derogatory statements without ever speaking of their evidence.
Following this, Jones’ barrister Robert Anderson admitted, “there are some meanings that are not able to be defended”.
Anderson went on to compare the case to Rebel Wilson’s lawsuit against Bauer Media, adding the magazines have “a far greater … extended reach” than 2GB.
“Wilson … was known to many more people than the plaintiffs would have been in this case,” he added.
However, the Wagner’s barrister Tom Blackburn immediately disputed this.
“Can I just say this your honour, Ms Wilson was called a liar,” Blackburn said.
“Being called a liar is just one of the things, one of the many things my clients were called. They were called murderers. Ms Wilson was not accused of murder.
“She was not accused of [intimidation] or thuggery … she was not accused of bribery.
“The totality of these publications was a shocking example of abuse of power, and power without responsibility,” Blackburn said.
“It calls for an award in respect of each plaintiff that is going to be sufficient … to convince Mr Jones’s devoted followers, who write to him and hang on every word that he says, to convince them that his charges are baseless.”