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Wagners do not want a jury for Alan Jones defamation case

The Wagner family is suing shock jock Alan Jones for 'implying” the Wagner quarry caused the Lockyer Valley floods.
The Wagner family is suing shock jock Alan Jones for "implying” the Wagner quarry caused the Lockyer Valley floods. Danial Tuck

A JURY could face up to 900 individual legal decisions potentially taking weeks to decide if shock jock Alan Jones defamed Toowoomba's wealthy Wagner family.

The Wagners on Thursday applied for the defamation trial to be heard in front of a judge-only, claiming the matter more complex than any previous defamation trial heard in Australia.

The Wagners have sued Mr Jones and his employer the Harbour Radio company over 32 broadcasts during which the family alleges the radio host falsely "implied” the family's quarry was to blame for the disastrous 2011 Lockyer Valley floods.

The Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday heard the Wagners believed the matter was so complicated a jury would take weeks to reach a verdict and might "invite error”.

Mr Jones's lawyers have rejected the allegations and are defending the action. The court heard Mr Jones would maintain his comments were not defamatory as they were true.

Wagners' lawyer Tom Blackburn said the jury might have to make up to 900 individual legal decisions to decide if Mr Jones had defamed the family.

He said it would be more practical for a single judge to come to a decision and publish his reasons than expect a jury to reach a unanimous verdict on so many issues.

"How is the jury going to cope with the demands of this case?” Mr Blackburn said.

"It's an invitation, your honour, for the trial to go off the rails.”

Mr Jones's lawyer Rob Anderson said a jury could not be avoided simply because the trial was complicated.

"Simply saying this is a big case is not enough to dispense with the jury,” he said.

"The jury is being asked to do the same thing 32 times. If it was 50 or 100 times it would still be the same.”

Mr Blackburn said the sheer number of defamatory broadcasts was "unprecedented”.

"Most defamation cases have one or two or three or maybe four defamatory allegations. There are 32 here,” he said.

Justice Peter Applegarth will deliver his decision at a later date. - NewsRegional

Topics:  alan jones defamation lockyer valley floods supreme court wagners



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