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Fri, 16 Oct, 2020

Alan Jones sues SBS for defamation over "tribute" mocking his career

Alan Jones sues SBS for defamation over "tribute" mocking his career

Alan Jones is suing public broadcaster SBS for defamation over a television segment which he claims “greatly injured” his reputation by wrongly painting him as a paedophile, a racist, a misogynist and a liar.

The veteran radio presenter and Sky News host is taking legal action in response to a segment on The Feed on May 12.

It was aired shortly after Jones announced he would retire from radio due to health reasons.

The Feed aired the episode which featured a “tribute” mocking his career.

In it presenter Alex Lee said Jones “made a career out of bullying people”, “gleefully used racial slurs” and “spread lies and fake news”.

“Alan Jones spoke to the fears of every xenophobe and misogynist in the country,” Lee said.

“He secretly took money from companies to spruik their products on air, was arrested once, and sued for defamation more times than I can count. Oh, and he was on the radio for a bit.”

Lee also claimed Jones had “undermined” the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and unfairly criticised female politicians. She also alleged he had written a love letter to a school student.

The episode was later available on SBS On Demand and various other social media pages. It has now been removed.

In documents filed in the Federal Court last week, Jones’ lawyers Sue Chrysanthou SC and Kieran Smark SC believe the episode contained defamatory remarks about their client, including that he “achieved his success as a broadcaster by habitually seeking to intimidate vulnerable people”.

News.com.au reported that the lawyers claim the broadcast wrongly suggested Jones was a “paedophile”.

They also say the report wrongly claimed Jones “sought to incite racial violence” in the week leading up to the Cronulla riots, “was a racist” for criticising Muslims and Aboriginal people, “was a misogynist” for attacking a female politician, and “was a liar” in that he spread misinformation about climate change.

They believe SBS made “over-sensationalised” allegations against the radio presenter and “greatly injured” his reputation.

“The applicant has been greatly injured in his business, personal and professional reputation and has been and will be brought into public disrepute, odium, ridicule and contempt,” the barristers wrote in the document.

“In circumstances where the nature of the material, being the making of seriously defamatory statements alleging criminality … were such that the allegations should have been put to the applicant so that he could respond to and deny the allegations.”

Jones is seeking damages including aggravated damages, an order permanently restraining SBS and Ms Lee from repeating the claims, an order that the material be taken down, and costs.

SBS has not yet filed any documents in the case and it has yet to comment publicly on the case.