Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro has filed a defamation suit against comedian and political commentator Jordan Shanks, known as Friendlyjordies.
The defamation action relates to two videos published on YouTube and was filmed in a home that Barilaro rents out on Airbnb
Barilaro has also joined Google in the defamation action because the company refused a request to delete the videos.
Shanks will defend the action using the truth defence, and says the lawsuit “could have terrible implications for free speech in this country.”
The case has many interesting aspects:
- There is no constitutional protection for ‘free speech’ in Australia as there is in America and elsewhere, although there is an implied right of freedom to make political commentary
- If Shanks’ truth defence fails he could also claim that satire is not meant to be taken seriously, therefore not defamatory
- Joining Youtbue (owned by Google) in the case will also challenge the assumption that Youtube is a ‘platform’ not a ‘publication’ and is therefore subject to different rules than broadcasters or newspaper publishers.
Last year radioinfo examined Shanks’ work in this article titled: Friendly Jordies: friend or foe to media journalism?
No court dates have yet been set.