A defamation case by former federal Liberal Party leader John Hewson against the Nine Network has been settled on the eve of the four-day trial, which was set to begin today.
Hewson, 74, was suing Nine over a story on A Current Affair (ACA) about a Sydney couple’s $6,000 insurance claim, which was rejected, for water damage to furniture in a storage unit.
At the time, Hewson was chair of GSA Insurance Brokers—the company that sold the couple’s insurance policy—but he claimed the story, which went to air in 2020, falsely suggested GSA refused to pay out valid claims.
Moreover, Hewson’s lawyers reportedly stated in court documents that ACA was told prior to broadcast that GSA was an insurance broker and not the insurer, meaning it was “not even the decision-maker” on claims.
In addition, his lawyers argued aggravated damages were appropriate as Nine “gratuitously ran footage of a 27-year-old interview … that was completely irrelevant to the report” to discredit him.
Nine said defamatory meanings had not been conveyed and submitted a defence of honest opinion.
However, Nine paper The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, the day of the trial, reported that Hewson’s solicitor, Paul Svilans, had informed the Federal Court “the proceedings have settled on confidential terms”.
Justice Wigney vacated the hearing and reportedly congratulated Hewson and Nine on settling the matter.