Alan Jones’s lawyer has admitted some of his claims about a Queensland family who are suing the broadcaster for defamation cannot be defended.
But Robert Anderson QC has argued Jones and co-accused Harbour Radio, 4BC and journalist Nick Cater should not face a similar payout to the record $4.5 million originally awarded to defamed actress Rebel Wilson.
“We accept there must be awarded damages because as Your Honour has seen … there are some meanings that are not able to be defended,” Mr Anderson told the Brisbane Supreme Court during closing submissions on Thursday.
Jones and the other parties were being sued by the prominent Wagner family, who claim they were accused of the deaths in Grantham when one of the walls of the Lockyer Valley quarry they owned collapsed.
Brothers John, Denis, Neill and Joe Wagner were seeking $4.8 million in damages.
Mr Anderson said a similar payout to Wilson’s original, reduced by $3.9 million by a Melbourne court on appeal on Thursday, was unjustified because Jones did not have the reach of Wilson’s defaming publisher Bauer Media.
Bauer, he argued, had a readership of more than a million and their claims portraying the movie star as dishonest were proliferated worldwide, while Jones’ audience was far less significant.
But the Wagners’ lawyer, Tom Blackburn SC, said Jones and Cater’s reaffirmation of their views about the family’s alleged responsibility for the flood deaths while giving evidence was justification for aggravated damages.
The hearing has concluded, with judgment expected in September.