Magazine settles Wagners defamation action with implications for Alan Jones case

The Spectator magazine has settled a case brought by Toowoomba’s Wagner family over allegedly defamatory reports that a quarry owned by the Wagner family caused a devastating flood in the region.
The Spectator magazine has agreed to pay a $572,674 to end the defamation action.
The settlement has implications for other defamation cases that are being brought by the family, including on against 2GB’s Alan Jones.
Denis Wagner (pictured), on behalf of the family, alleges Jones implied that a quarry they owned was responsible for floods in Grantham during 2011, where 12 people were killed.  A commission of inquiry in 2015 cleared the Wagners of any responsibility, and the inquiry head concluded the flood was “a natural disaster and that no human agency caused it or could ever have prevented it”.
In the Brisbane Supreme Court, lawyers for the Wagner family tendered 32 separate 2GB broadcasts they allege were defamatory. Lawyers for the Wagners said Alan Jones “painted a picture” for the everyday listener of a family so powerful it could influence consecutive Queensland premiers, mining and gas giants and the police.  The lawyers acknowledge that Jones never made the accusations directly, but say they were “implied” in his broadcasts.
2GB parent company Harbour Radio is fighting the case using the defence of truth. The station will therefore be required to prove that all 32 comments were true, which will require detailed legal argument around the words used and their implications.
The Brisbane Supreme Court heard that Alan Jones maintains his comments were not defamatory as they were true.

Tags: | | | |