Chinese-Australian billionaire Chau Chak Wing has won his defamation case against Fairfax Media, awarded $280,000 in damages.
The defamation lawsuit was filed by Chau in response to a 2015 article written by John Garnaut and published on The Sydney Morning Herald’s website, entitled: “Are Chau Chak Wing’s circles of influence in Australia-China ties built on hot air?”
Chau told a Federal Court that the article falsely suspects him of conspiring to bribe former UN General Assembly president John Ashe, and has caused a lot of harm to his personal and professional reputation.
A spokesperson for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age said: “We will be appealing the Federal Court’s Decision.
“We are disappointed that the judge did not uphold our public interest defence, which was the only one available to us under Australian defamation law, and was not persuaded by our evidence.
“John Garnaut is a careful, meticulous, Walkley award-winning journalist who is globally recognised for his China expertise.
“Within the current defamation regime, both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age remain committed to the role of public interest journalism. We source and check all our stories vigorously and take great pride in our role to inform the community debate”.
Garnaut said in response to the ruling: “I place great store in my personal integrity and professional credibility.
“I took great care in compiling this story, building on six years of close observation.
“I believe the story was reported fairly, responsibly and in the public interest”.