/ 17 October 2023

The ABC’s ordered to cough up


Our national broadcaster has been told to pay $390,000 to ex-soldier Heston Russell after he won a defamation case against the broadcaster in the Federal Court. The ABC ran defamatory reports in ‘20 and ‘21 that linked Russell to alleged war crimes in Afghanistan in 2012. Russell denied any wrongdoing and sued. The broadcaster attempted to prove the allegations were true but later dropped that defence. Next up was arguing the reporting was in the public interest, but yesterday, the court ruled in favour of Russell, saying the ABC couldn’t show it “reasonably believed” the reports were in the public interest. Outside court, Russell said the case traumatised him “more than any enemy we ever faced overseas”. But Justice Michael Lee was also critical of Russell, saying he’d “embraced the public controversy … and used it to further his personal causes and profile”.

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