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

Wagner calls $3.7m Alan Jones lawsuit a win for truth

TOOWOOMBA businessman Denis Wagner believes his family's record-breaking defamation suit over broadcaster Alan Jones has far-reaching implications for Australian media companies.

Jones and two radio stations were ordered to pay $3.7 million in compensation for falsely claiming the Wagner family was responsible for 12 deaths in the 2011 Lockyer Valley floods.

Sydney radio broadcaster Jones, Harbour Radio, and 4BC were sued by Denis Wagner and his brothers John, Neill and Joe, who claimed they were blamed for the deaths in Grantham when one of the walls of the quarry they owned collapsed.

Joe, John, Dennis and Neill Wagner speak to the media outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane today. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Joe, John, Dennis and Neill Wagner speak to the media outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane today. Picture: Darren England/AAP

Mr Wagner said the punishment for Mr Jones' "vicious and spiteful" comments about the family over 30 broadcasts sent a message to media outlets and governments.

"In my view, there is a responsibility for corporate Australia and advertisers to only support those broadcasters who can be truthful," he told The Chronicle after the ruling.

"And if someone has proven themselves to be not truthful and have wilful blindness to the truth, I think there is a huge responsibility on government to ensure organisations have the power to ensure that these actions cannot continue for years.

"We need to give ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) some real teeth so they can do something about a situation like this."

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Peter Flanagan awarded each brother about $925,000 as part of his decision against the defendants.

Mr Wagner, who is the chairman of the ASX-listed Wagners Holding Company, said Jones' extensive campaign against the family had been emotionally draining.

"I think we felt we had a responsibility to ourselves and certainly the Australian public to ensure the truth came out," he said.

"There has certainly been a toll on the family.

"We have faced this vilification from Jones since 2011, and it was malicious and spiteful, and it didn't stop until we commenced this action.

"Even when he was under oath, he repeated the allegations."

Mr Wagner thanked the Toowoomba community for supporting the family during the trial.

"We've had people actually pull us up in the street and wish us well," he said.

"But what it highlighted was that because these broadcasts go far and wide, you see how far these comments went.

"There are hundreds of thousands of others out there who we don't have the opportunity to talk to and maybe still believe these baseless accusations."



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