SKY News presenter Alan Jones has lost a high profile defamation case in relation to comments he made on Radio 2GB and 4BC.
Jones and 2GB /4BC have been ordered to pay around $3.75 million in damages (including interest) to Toowoomba-based Wagner family following a series of radio broadcasts between 2014 and 2015.
The Supreme Court in Brisbane found 2GB and Jones published 27 broadcasts which conveyed “extremely serious” defamatory allegations, including that the Wagner family were responsible for the deaths of 12 people, including two children, in the 2011 Grantham floods when a quarry wall owned by the family collapsed.
The court also found the broadcasts alleged that the brothers had illegally built the Wellcamp Airport and had stolen airspace from the Oakey Army Base.
Jones and 2GB will be required to pay the Wagner family more than $3.3 million. In addition, Brisbane station 4BC and Jones were also ordered to pay the family more than $440,000 surrounding separate broadcasts.
Jones and 2GB tried to argue many of the allegations made by the broadcaster were substantially true and others were a fair report of the Grantham Flood Inquiry.
Speaking outside court Denis Wagner said he and his family had faced “vilification” by Jones for seven years.
“Until we commenced this action, Mr Jones’ malicious attacks on our character and that of our family were unrelenting,” Wagner said.
“The comments by Alan Jones have been described by the judge as unjustifiable.”
The amount of $3.75 million tops the previous Australian record for defamation, at $2.62 million awarded to Perth barrister Lloyd Rayney last year.
The case was confined to radio broadcast comments by Jones and not directly related to his weekly Jones & Co. show which last night was the second-highest rated STV title of the night.