‘Truth’ and ‘Fair Comment’ wins court battle for Hadley

Ray Hadley and his employer, 2GB (Harbour Radio) have beaten a defamation suit brought on by two former directors of the Parramatta Eels NRL Club.

After 20 months of pleadings over derogatory on-air remarks made by Hadley, ex-chairman Steve Sharp and ex-deputy chairman Tom Issa, have dropped the case and are liable to pay significant legal costs.

Judge Lucy McCallum, in the NSW Supreme Court, ­ordered Mr Sharp to pay Harbour Radio, $60,000 in costs with Mr Issa’s costs yet to be ­determined.

In July last year, after the Eels were found to have engaged in systemic salary cap breaches through the use of illegal third-party deals, issuing false invoices and under-the-table player payments, the entire board was sacked by the NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Mr Sharp and Mr Issa had argued that Mr Hadley had defamed them and contributed to their sacking through sustained attacks on 2GB.

They were seeking ‘aggravated damages’ for Hadley’s remarks such as:

The Parramatta board (led by them) was “dysfunctional and basically hopeless.” He accused them of “lies and mismanagement.” 

He variously described the pair as “laughable” and “absolute nincompoops” referring to their denial of knowledge about the “abuse of the salary cap.”

He said that Mr Sharp couldn’t direct “a choko vine over an outhouse”.

In his defence, Hadley’s legal team asserted that the remarks made by their client were either substantially “true” or “fair comment.”

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