Treasurer Joe Hockey wins defamation case against Fairfax

Joe Hockey leaves the Federal Court with his wife Melissa Babbage

Treasurer Joe Hockey has won a defamation case against Fairfax Media.

The Federal Court has been examining whether Mr Hockey’s reputation was damaged by a series of reports last year from Fairfax, including an article headlined “Treasurer for sale”.

Justice Richard White found that a poster headline and tweets reading “Treasurer for sale” were defamatory.

Mr Hockey was awarded $200,000 in damages.

All other claims made by Mr Hockey were dismissed.

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The reports, published in newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and online on May 5 last year, related to Mr Hockey’s involvement with Liberal Party fundraising group the North Sydney Forum (NSF).

In March, the court heard from The Sydney Morning Herald’s state political editor who wrote the article, Sean Nicholls, who said that he believed the story was in the public interest because there was “significant public debate about donations being tied to access to politicians”.

The court heard Nicholls sent an email to Mr Hockey on Friday, May 2, requesting information about the Treasurer’s involvement with NSF and requested a response by May 4, the day before the article was published.

But the Treasurer told the court earlier that he was too busy preparing for his first budget to respond to Nicholls’ email.

In March, Mr Hockey told the court he viewed the report as defamatory because it suggested his influence could be bought by members of the NSF, who pay up to $22,000 a year for access to events attended by Mr Hockey and others.

The Treasurer said his office received no money from the NSF.

The court heard in March editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir sent an email to Nicholls in March 2014.

It said: “Given what [The Age editor-in-chief Andrew Holden] and I endured last week with Hockey, I want to have this nailed to the cross in more ways than one.”

Nicholls told the court: “He wanted any article produced from this research to be meticulous. He wanted every fact to be nailed down.”

Mr Hockey’s lawyer Bruce McClintock SC replied: “Mr Goodsir was suggesting you crucify my client.”

Nicholls replied: “No, that’s not what I took from that at all.”

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Source by abc