In March next year Treasurer Joe Hockey will be in the witness stand in Sydney at the Federal Court of Australia. Mr Hockey will be there for his defamation case against Fairfax Media and will be cross-examined by Fairfax’s Junior barrister Sandy Dawson. But there are a lot of people with plenty riding on the case besides Mr Hockey as you would expect in a high-profile case.
The matter was is court again on Tuesday (9/12/14) for a directions hearing and there is obviously no love lost between Mr Hockey’s barrister Mr McClintock and Fairfax’s barrister Mr Dawson. The SMH reported:
“On Tuesday, before Justice Peter Jacobson entered the courtroom, Mr McClintock told Fairfax Media’s barrister, Sandy Dawson: “If the imputations are conveyed you are f—–.””
“Mr Dawson replied, “I assume you have given the treasurer the same advice with a ‘not’ in the first part of that sentence.”” (Click here to read more)
The case relates to front-page articles headlined “Treasurer For Sale” on May the 5th in the The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times and their online services. Mr Hockey claims he was defamed as it implied he took bribes etc. (click here to read)
Spending big dollars
Mr Hockey obviously feels he has nothing to hide and is happy to be cross-examined. This tactic has been given plenty of thought as Mr Hockey has at least 2 senior defamation lawyers, Mark O’Brien and Paul Svilans, and senior barrister Bruce McClintock SC representing him. I also understand Mr Hockey has a junior barrister advising as well.
Joe Hockey could end up winning the case in court but losing in the court of public opinion which as a politician would be very damaging. But Mr Hockey is a qualified lawyer and he is spending big dollars on the case so let him have his day in court and see what happens.
Danger for the Liberal Party
I am sure that there are plenty of people within the Liberal Party that wish Mr Hockey had not initiated his case
The NSW State Liberal Party has an election due at the end of March next year which will be just a matter of days after Mr Hockey’s court case. The NSW Liberal Party has lost over 10 members recently which is mostly related to dodgy fund-raising and Mr Hockey’s case will put the media focus onto that exact topic. It has to do at least some damage to their election campaign one would expect.
Given Mr McClintock’s exchange with Sandy Dawson I think it is worth revisiting the video I filmed of Mr Dawson a few months ago after a previous directions hearing regarding the Hockey versus Fairfax Media matter.
Others with plenty to lose
Behind the scenes people like barrister Sandy Dawson and Fairfax’s Group General Counsel Gail Hambly also have plenty to lose. (Click here to read more) Gail Hambly should have retired or been sacked years ago and next year could be a make or break year for Mr Dawson.
I personally think it will be a break year for Mr Dawson as regular readers know Sandy Dawson is representing Kerry Stokes in his matter against me. If Dawson loses the Hockey case and then gets whipped by a self-represented blogger (me) it won’t be a good look to say the least.
The case is also a huge test for the Federal Court of Australia as they have heard very few defamation matters. Until very recently all defamation cases were heard by state courts.
The case is currently set down for hearing for ten days between the 9th to the 20th of March 2015 in the Federal Court of Australia to be heard by Justice Richard White. It is odd that Justice White is based in Adelaide so he will have to fly to Sydney to hear the case. Why that is I do not know but I will try to find out and write an update in the comment section below.
If possible I will go to the court case and report on it as it could be a real game changer for the whole political landscape in many ways. Both short-term and long-term.
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