Alan Jones, 2GB and 4BC ordered to pay $3.4m in damages as defamation case concludes

Alan Jones, 2GB and 4BC have been ordered to pay $3.4m in damages plus interest, to the four Wagner brothers he suggested were responsible for the deaths of 12 people.

The Supreme Court of Queensland found broadcaster Jones, who operates on radio stations Sydney’s 2GB and Brisbane’s 4BC, defamed the Wagner family in a series of radio broadcasts between 2014 and 2015.

Jones lost the defamation case this morning

The Toowoomba-based Wagner family launched legal action against Jones and journalist Nick Cater, after Jones suggested the family was responsible for the deaths of 12 people in the 2011 Grantham floods, when a quarry wall owned by the family collapsed.

They also claimed Jones had said the airspace for the privately-built Wellcamp Airport at Toowoomba was approved via corrupt means. 

“The Supreme Court of Queensland has determined that the plaintiffs – Denis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner – have succeeded in their claims for damages for defamation against 2GB, 4BC and Alan Jones,” the court said today.

The court ruled that between October 28, 2014, and August 20, 2015, Jones has published 30 broadcasts, of which 27 can conveyed 76 defamatory imputations relating to the plaintiffs. It described the imputations as “extremely serious” and “of the gravest kind”.

“In the result, Mr Jones, 2GB and 4BC have failed to establish any defence to the defamatory matters published,” a summary said.

The Court has awarded each brother $750,000 worth of damages, plus $78,102.74 in interest, in relation to 27 matters concerning 2GB and Jones. In relation to the two matters concerning Jones and 4BC, the court awarded each brother damages in the sum of $100,000, with interest of $10,643.84.

“Mr Jones, 2GB and 4BC are permanently restrained from publishing or causing to be published any of the matters complained of,” the summary said.

Claims against journalist Cater have been dismissed: “Mr Cater was interviewed by Mr Jones on Radio 2GB on 17 March 2015 (the Eleventh Matter). Neither by his own words nor by his conduct did Mr Cater seek to conduce Mr Jones to convey the defamatory imputation that each plaintiff caused the deaths of 12 people by constructing a massive wall at his quarry that collapsed under the weight of water, causing the 2011 Grantham flood.”

In this year’s financial results, Macquarie Media had left $3m worth of provisions aside for claims, relating to potential liabilities for defamation settlements. The provisions were made with counsel’s opinion and extensive legal advice.

In August this year, Jones came under fire for using the word, ‘n-word’ on air. At the time, CEO of Macquarie Media Adam Lang said Jones was not a liability.

Mumbrella has approached Macquarie Media for comment.


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