Veteran radio host Alan Jones has been accused of “relentless and baseless” attacks on Queensland’s Wagner family during the opening day of his defamation lawsuit.
The 2GB breakfast host made the accusations across 32 different broadcasts on stations 2GB and 4BC, as well as once on Sky News, during 2014 and 2015.
Specifically, Jones is being sued by the four Wagner brothers for suggesting they were responsible for the deaths of 12 people during the 2011 Grantham floods.
Jones argued the Wagner family should be held accountable for the walls collapsing on the Lockyer Valley quarry, which lead to the deaths.
As well as this, Jones initially suggested the Wagner brothers were conspiring with the then Queensland premier Anna Bligh and deputy prime minister Wayne Swan, a claim which has since been dropped.
Speaking at the trial, Tom Blackburn SC told the supreme court the four Wagner brothers, whom he is representing, faced a tirade of abuse from Jones who is yet to apologise.
“All of his allegations, including this one, were accompanied by another message: that the plaintiffs are cruel, selfish and lawless people that pursue their goals through corruption, cronyism, intimidation and criminality,” Blackburn told the court.
“It will be our submission at the end of this case that there is not an ounce of evidence for those grave allegations that Mr Jones has made.”
Speaking of the conspiratorial claims, Blackburn said, “Those allegations have been dropped very recently.”
Due to the extremely public and ongoing nature of the claims, Blackburn said the case was completely unique to Australian courts.
“It’s the sheer volume of these charges and the relentlessness of them, your honour, that sets this case apart,” he said.
“If the statements were not lawfully excusable in some way then the damages, in our submission, must be very large indeed, because as we say they constitute a defamation that is unparalleled as far as we’re aware in this country.”
Jones remained relatively quiet throughout the proceedings, however, said outside the court, “I’ve got no comment to make — I normally do have a view but I’ve been told by my people to say nothing, so this day I’m doing as I’m told.”
The trial is expected to last several weeks.
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