Radio broadcaster Alan Jones arriving at the Supreme Court in Brisbane in May. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Radio broadcaster Alan Jones arriving at the Supreme Court in Brisbane in May. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

Jones faces defamation D-Day in Brisbane court

AFTER a three-month wait, Alan Jones will find out if he owes Australia's largest defamation payout to a Queensland family.

Sydney radio broadcaster Jones, journalist Nick Cater, Harbour Radio and 4BC are each being sued for $1.2 million.

Brothers John, Denis, Neill and Joe Wagner claim they were accused of 12 deaths in Grantham when one of the walls of the quarry they owned collapsed in the 2011 floods.

Radio broadcaster Alan Jones arriving at the Supreme Court in Brisbane in May. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Radio broadcaster Alan Jones arriving at the Supreme Court in Brisbane in May. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

Justice Peter Flanagan, who is set to hand down his judgment on Wednesday, revealed during the Brisbane Supreme Court trial he's "pretty sure" some of Jones' statements about the Wagners were going to be found to be defamatory.

He also criticised Jones and Cater's evidence in reasserting their claims about the Wagners' alleged responsibility, saying the claims were not based on expert opinions.

 

Neill, John and Denis Wagner, as well as brother Joe, are suing Alan Jones for defamation. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Neill, John and Denis Wagner, as well as brother Joe, are suing Alan Jones for defamation. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

 

The trial ended in June with Jones' legal team on the back foot, having dropped his honest-opinion defence after the judge warned it would fail if his allegedly defamatory statements were found to be substantially untrue.

On the final day of submissions, Jones' lawyer Robert Anderson QC argued against a Rebel Wilson-like defamation payout, with the actress initially awarded $4.5 million after being defamed by Bauer Media.

An aerial view of Wagner's Quarry in the Lockyer Valley.
An aerial view of Wagner's Quarry in the Lockyer Valley.

Mr Anderson said a similar payout to Wilson's original, reduced by $3.9 million on appeal, was unjustified because Jones did not have the reach of Bauer Media. But Mr Anderson also admitted some claims made about the Wagner family were indefensible.

Should Justice Flanagan award the $4.8 million to the Wagners, it would eclipse Australia's largest defamation payout of $2.62 million.

That was awarded to Perth barrister Lloyd Rayney after police defamed him by naming him as the "prime" and "only" suspect in the murder of his wife, Corryn.



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