Following on from yesterday’s rather depressing financial results, it’s even more bad news for Fairfax Media after its top columnist and former Wallaby, Peter FitzSimons (pictured above), was found guilty of defamation and the company ordered to pay $300,000 in damages.
The Australian (who appears to be revelling in its rival’s ongoing misfortunes) is this morning reporting that the company lost the case in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday.
According to the reports, the case goes back to Spetember 2013 when FitzSimons (Fairfax’s top sports opinion writer) implied in a series of articles that personal trainer Sean Carolan had conducted tests on players from the Sydney Roosters rugby league team without their knowledge and then, for some unexplained reason, passed the results onto organised crime figures.
Carolan believed the articles had no basis and had caused him and his family great distress. He told the Court he had been the subject of online hate forums, his house had been attacked and his children bullied at school as a result of the articles.
The judge presiding over the case, Justice Lucy McCallum, said the articles failed to prove the imputation of the articles to be true.
“Inexplicably, however, Fairfax did not seek to prove that contention by calling a single football player to give evidence that he did not consent to have his blood tested in the manner that occurred,” McCallum said as per The Australian’s report. “Rather, the defence rested on a complex and ultimately unconvincing series of premises as to the process by which player consent could be taken to have been obtained (or not).”