Fairfax Media

Treasurer Joe Hockey and his defamation case against Fairfax Media heats up a notch

Treasurer Joe Hockey is suing Fairfax Media for defamation because they implied he takes bribes and the matter was in court again on Thursday for a directions hearing. Fairfax have retained the corrupt barrister Sandy Dawson to represent them which gives a strong indication of what Fairfax’s defence strategy will be. That being to lie, lie and more lies. I put some questions directly to Fairfax and Mr Dawson and as you will see below they were not forthcoming with responses.

The court case has a huge public interest given the serious allegations that Fairfax Media have made and if substantiated go to the heart of Joe Hockey’s credibility and suitability not only as treasurer but also as a MP. Therefore the public should expect that the matter will be conducted in a true and just manner. It should not be another political judgment or one that is tainted by dodgy conduct by the lawyers involved.

Yet Fairfax Media do not seem to care less and have flagged that they will be playing the case dirty given their retention of Sandy Dawson. The Australian public deserve better especially from a media company.

Does Joe Hockey have a case?

I wrote previously that it is a bad move for Mr Hockey to sue for numerous reasons. (Click here to read the post). It is probably worse now given that the hearing is set for March which is the same time as the NSW Stale Election and corrupt political donations will be a big issue especially after the revelations at ICAC this week. (Click here to read more)

Be that as it may, Mr Hockey is entitled to sue for defamation and unless Fairfax can point to some specific situation or evidence where Mr Hockey has done someone a favour in return for their donation then Fairfax might lose the case.

Defamation Case – Treasurer for sale headlines

Mr Hockey claims that the Fairfax articles in May “conveyed a series of defamatory meanings including that he “accepted bribes paid to influence the decisions he made as Treasurer”. (Click here to read more)

Joe Hockey v Fairfax Media 2

Interestingly Joe Hockey chose to pursue his claim in the Federal Court which rarely hears defamation matters instead of the Supreme Court of NSW which is the main forum for defamation cases in NSW. I think even Mr Hockey knows how dodgy the Supreme Court is.

Fairfax Media – Gail Hambly – Greg Hywood

Greg Hywood - CEO - Fairfax Media

Greg Hywood – CEO – Fairfax Media

Gail Hambly who is Group General Counsel and Company Secretary for Fairfax Media is the one sitting behind the scenes pulling the strings for Fairfax. She would also be the main decision maker for the company deciding what strategy to take and what barristers and external lawyers to hire etc for the court case. In simple terms Ms Hambly is the head lawyer and as Company Secretary she shows up to board meetings, organises them and gets paid $1 million plus a year for her trouble.

I emailed Gail Hambly and I also sent the email to Greg Hywood who is Fairfax’s CEO.

Email to Gail Hambly and Greg Hywood:

The barrister you have retained, Sandy Dawson, has recently been criticised to the extreme by Justice Ian Harrison of the Supreme Court of NSW in another defamation matter. One example is Justice Harrison said “I reject entirely any suggestion or submission” by Sandy Dawson in relation to the lies that Mr Dawson was saying in court from the Bar Table.

Given Sandy Dawson has been caught out lying and deceiving in court which I know for a fact that your external lawyer Leanne Norman from Banki Haddock Fiora Lawyers is fully aware can you please answer the following questions.

The questions:

  1. The matter covers alleged corrupt conduct by Joe Hockey which concerns all Australians and goes to Mr Hockey’s suitability to be Treasurer and a MP, so why have you retained a barrister whose honestly is so severely tainted given the judgment of Justice Harrison?
  2. One might assume that Fairfax Media are planning on lying and deceiving in court in their defence in the defamation matter given you have retained Mr Dawson. Is this true? And if not why would Fairfax Media put themselves in a position where the public might think that?
  3. Who was the person who made the decision to retain Sandy Dawson to represent Fairfax Media?
  4. If you look at Justice Harrison’s judgement which was handed down on the 24th of April 2014 you will see that Mr Dawson was beaten by a self-represented blogger. Why would Fairfax Media retain and pay big dollars to someone like Mr Dawson who cannot even beat a layman in court? (Click here to read the full email)

There has been no response to date although they did receive the email as I phoned Ms Hambly’s PA Fiona Westgarth on Friday at 2.38pm who confirmed she had received the email and she said both Ms Hambly and Mr Hywood were out of the office.

This is a case against the Federal Treasure and it is poor form for a media company to refuse to answer questions. If a politician or business person refuses to answer questions Fairfax ask then Fairfax claim they have something to hide. So what have Fairfax got to hide?

It is well-known that Fairfax Media have been struggling financially and I suppose proof of that is the fact that they have only retained a dodgy junior barrister like Sandy Dawson who cannot defend himself let alone any of his clients. (Click here to read my previous post: Sandy Dawson Barrister-at-law. He’s not even a private of the court let alone an officer of the court.”

Mr Dawson was also recently whipped 3 nil in the Corby defamation matter. (Click here to read) So no one seems to actually employ him for the quality of his work.

Fairfax’s barrister Sandy Dawson and lawyer Leanne Norman

The below video is me putting questions to Fairfax Media’s barrister Sandy Dawson outside the Law Courts building in Sydney on Thursday the 7/8/14. He is with Fairfax’s lawyer Leanne Norman.

(Click anywhere on the above video to watch)

It was bad that Mr Dawson refused to answer questions but even worse that he and Ms Norman changed direction and almost ran back into the court building to avoid answering media questions as the video shows. It makes them look very guilty of something. They are representing a media company and should be prepared to answer questions. Lawyers and barristers answer questions outside court all the time when it suits them and in this case given it involves one of the most senior politicians in the country they should expect questions. They should be sacked just for carrying on as they did.

Both Gail Hambly and Leanne Norman are ex lawyers at Freehills and obviously friends. It looks like Ms Hambly is more interested in looking after her friend than Fairfax shareholders.

Everyone is accountable in the new world of social media – some have not woken up to it yet.

Everyone is accountable and being watched. If you do something wrong on the train or bus people can film it and pass it onto the police and you may be charged at a later date, as has happened a number of times recently. Judges, barristers and lawyers in court are being watched as much as anyone and they are just as accountable nowadays but some still need to learn the hard way. Mr Dawson should have known this given he claims to specialise in media and defamation. He should not have been caught lying in court so blatantly that Justice Harrison effectively had no choice but to say so in a judgment. People will also be watching everything in this court case more than ever so any lies will hit social media fast which is exactly what is happening with the two Royal Commissions and ICAC etc. Fairfax Media management either do not understand it or do not care.

Public’s Right to Know

So we have a situation where a media company who demands accountability from politicians and others refuses to be accountable themselves. Fairfax Media have been badly let down by management in the past and it looks like that is continuing. If the case does go to hearing I think it will be an explosive case. And it will probably will go to hearing as both sides have too  much to lose.

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9 replies »

  1. Hmmm …Shane, I wonder who will tell the most lies? And surely you must have noticed by now that lawyers are professional liars-it’s what they do! Joe Hockey is an absolute grub of a man. Bet he has never done a day’s work in his life. No matter he is definately not fit to represent the people of Australia.

    Regards, Warren Olsen

  2. Good question Pat. It appears that it depends upon which available media outlet has the most influence in a particular State. In Canberra we have the Canberra Times which is an extension of the Fairfax Press. It’s mast head is “Independent Always”. Try to swallow that without water.
    Frank Scargill

  3. Hi Shane, I agree with Pat McCann. Where’s the proof, Warren Olsen??? This is not a forum to denigrate people at your whim. Have some proof, then we will listen. Meanwhile ,keep on “punching on” !

  4. The case will become an extension of the NSW . ICAC findings into corrupt LNP election funding fraud where ministers lose their portfolios and premiers lose their job’s
    —and the funding bundles go to the heart of the North Sydney cabal

    Hockey -might show up as being one of the skeletons in the LNP closet full of money

    if it starts looking that way –the case will be settled on the steps of the federal court with Hockey picking up Fairfax’s court and legal costs

  5. Here goes the Circus yet again, they are all doing it and beholding to others after an election, this has been going on ever since beginning of Australian Politics on both sides of the house… !!

  6. It appears to me that Hockey chose the Federal Court forum because there would likely be no jury.

    This shows that Hockey does not want his money raising exploits put to a jury of his peers.

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