In his latest weekly serving in the spirited Townsville website , The Magpie's Nest , journalist Malcolm Weatherup revealed the latest development in the court action in which he was awarded more than $500,000 for defamation by the Murdoch newspaper , The Australian .
The Magpie , like any good local journo should , reported that the Appeals Court in Brisbane had basically dismissed an attempt by News Ltd to " overturn a jury verdict that The Australian had defamed a fine, upstanding, sober gentleman of the press … err, ahem, cough, cough … that would be moi. "
The judges, he continued, had done a little legal tinkering around the edges of the outcome, changing a word or so in the complicated jury verdict while otherwise leaving it untouched.
Bottom line – Rupert was told to pay up, and now it remained to see if News Ltd wanted to take the case to the High Court. As the company had already spent close to a million dollars in legal costs, The Pie wondered how much more flattery they would afford him. If you could be bothered, he said the Appeal Court judgement was included in The Magpie's post .
"One of the claims which News could not prove in its defence against my action was that I was forced to leave the Townsville Bulletin (I wasn’t, I resigned in disgust at the paper’s tabloid direction) because of the ‘wrath’ of several judges.
"This was also found to be fanciful codswallop, and the only irritation the local judges showed me was that they were grumpy because they weren’t called as witnesses to confirm what utter tosh the claim was.
"It was the subject of a jolly lunch they shouted me after the Supreme Court case.
"But one of their number, the now retired John Baulch SC, just couldn’t control his ‘anger’, and called around to The Nest to give me a piece of his mind … and to give me this."
In an unsolicited testimonial , Weatherup said Baulch always has had a good taste in wine … and in his avian friends. "Thanks, John, get angry as often as you like."
Wow !!! What a great story to follow up by the dynamic local media outside of the Townsville Bulletin : local journalist tosses Murdoch again in court , judges angry that they were not called in his defence in the defamation case ... Weatherup presented with an aptly named bottle of vino , The Laughing Magpie .
So far , not a full throated peep out of the scribes , which speaks volumes.Who said Queensland needs a major media shakeup , especially a new voice in the North , apart from the vast network of Murdoch papers and websites , commercial TV and radio interests which leave a lot to be desired and the ABC , which performs the best, especially with rural news, but nevertheless lacks oomph in other areas?
TIPS FOR FOLLOW UPS
Ask Murdoch HQ in Sydney if it intends to take the case to the High Court . If so , why ? If not , when will payment be made ? Is News Limited aware Mr Weatherup had his voice box removed and is not in the best of health , a situation which some people might think is aggravated by the drawn out court battle with a media giant ?Is News Limited procrastinating in the hope that Mr Weatherup will fall from his perch ? This is a nasty suggestion, but legitimate in the circumstances. Incidentally, quite regularly on TV you see an army of reporters outside courts asking key players in cases what they think of the result and other related questions .