Fairfax Media and the ABC have launched an appeal against the Federal Court throwing out their truth defence in a defamation case filed by a prominent Chinese-Australian businessman.
Chau Chak Wing (pictured above) launched defamation proceedings in June 2017 against both media companies, along with Fairfax journo Nick McKenzie, with a report on the ABC’s Four Corners and an online article the focus.
The stories published from the joint investigation by Fairfax and the ABC claimed that Chau bribed a senior United Nations official to the tune of $200,000.
However, Chau’s barrister has argued that the reports portray him as a Chinese spy who “betrayed his country”, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The ABC, Fairfax and McKenzie were relying heavily on their claims being significantly true, only for the Federal Court to throw out their truth defence last month. The three parties are now appealing the Federal Court’s decision.
A Fairfax spokesperson said on Friday that if the decision were to stand, it would “limit journalists’ ability to do their job by unearthing facts and exposing the truth”.
“It would also deny access by journalists to ordinary court processes, such as subpoenas and discovery, to prove the truth of their journalism when confronted with classification claims,” the spokesperson said.
“We cannot accept any lessening of journalism’s ability to serve the public interest.”
Fairfax Media statement on Chau Chak Wing defamation lawsuit appeal: pic.twitter.com/xFaFfk03SY
— Fairfax Media (@FairfaxMedia) September 14, 2018
This defamation case isn’t the only one Fairfax is facing against Chau, with the businessman taking the publisher and one of its former journos, John Garnaut, to court in June over an article published by The Sydney Morning Herald in 2015.