'Total control' in fight over Alan Jones defamation fallout
THE "free rein" Alan Jones had during defamatory programs makes it pointless gagging radio companies from discussing the Wagner trial, a court has heard.
Fallout from last year's unprecedented defamation trial continued at Queensland Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
Mr Jones, Harbour Radio and Brisbane's Radio 4BC appealed after Justice Peter Flanagan imposed injunctions five months ago.
The injunctions prevent the broadcasters from publishing several issues Toowoomba's Wagner family complained about.
These included defamatory imputations the Wagners and others orchestrated "a high-level cover-up" after 12 people died in the 2011 Grantham floods.
The Wagners successfully sued and were awarded $3.4million in damages last September and almost $355,000 in interest.
But on Wednesday their barrister, Tom Blackburn, said it could be inferred Mr Jones wanted to repeat "some of the defamatory statements, if not all of them".
Mr Blackburn said the talkback host had argued he and all 2GB staff were banned from "discussing most aspects" of their defence, or of Justice Flanagan's decision.
But Mr Blackburn said the order simply prevented Mr Jones repeating defamatory allegations.
The broadcasters' barrister, Rob Anderson, said injunctions should never have been imposed on corporate defendants in this case.
He said Mr Jones "had total control over his radio program" and "free rein" and without him, defamatory statements would never have been broadcast.
Justice Hugh Fraser asked if this apparent lack of "traditional" editorial control actually made injunctions on the stations even more relevant.
"We seem to have defamations here which are of the gravest kind."
Mr Anderson said: "A restraint upon Mr Jones effectively means there's no broadcast. The [stations] don't need to be restrained."
He said imposing injunctions was not a normal consequence of Australian defamation suits.
The conduct of Mr Jones during cross-examination at last year's trial was also discussed.
Mr Anderson said it could accepted Mr Jones "spoke longer than he should have" at times.
But he said any less-than-ideal answers from Mr Jones did not mean the radio host was now "threatening" or intending to disrespect Justice Flanagan's decision.
The appeal court reserved its decision. -NewsRegional