Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys has lost a defamation case against the ABC over a 7:30 episode which showed footage of cruelty towards racehorses and footage from within an abattoir.
The episode, titled ‘The Final Race’, aired in October in 2019 and revealed that retired racehorses had been slaughtered in a Queensland abattoir.
V’landys sued the national broadcaster and journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna for the piece, claiming the journalist deceived him by not showing the abattoir footage prior to an interview with him.
The graphic footage was shown alongside the recorded interview with V’landys.
And while V’landys and his legal team claimed the portrayal defamed him, Judge Michael Wigney ruled differently.
“It tended to convey that the regulators, including Mr V’landys, were not effective if not incompetent when it came to dealing with wastage in the industry,” Justice Wigney said.
“It did not, however, convey that Mr V’landys actually knew that racehorses were being slaughtered and that his denials were callous and dishonest … nor did it convey that Mr V’landys permitted the slaughter to occur.”
V’landys has said he will appeal the decision, telling the Herald “this is only the first round”.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful to the judge … but my legal team are looking through the judgment now. They were as shocked as much as I was. Their first advice was to appeal,” he told the paper.
The ABC has welcomed the ruling.
“‘The Final Race’ was an important and ground-breaking investigation, forensically and conscientiously reported, which exposed the cruel treatment and miserable fates of many of Australia’s retired racehorses in slaughterhouses and abattoirs,” an ABC spokesperson said.
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