Lachlan Murdoch’s legal team loses bid to have parts of Crikey’s defamation defence dismissed | Lachlan Murdoch

Lachlan Murdoch’s application to have parts of Crikey’s defence about Fox News’s role in the January 6 riot dismissed has failed in a pre-trial hearing in the federal court.

In August the co-chair of News Corp filed proceedings for defamation against the Australian independent news site over an article by its politics editor, Bernard Keane, headlined “Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator”.

Keane argued the former US president Richard Nixon was infamously the “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Watergate scandal and drew an analogy that “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators were the unindicted co-conspirators” in the events of 6 January.

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Murdoch’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, had sought to have Crikey’s inclusion in its defence of background facts about Fox News’s coverage of the US election struck out on the grounds they are irrelevant, embarrassing and will waste time at the trial.

Justice Michael Wigney said he was not satisfied the paragraphs “are sufficiently evasive or ambiguous to warrant being struck out” before the trial.

“Legal issues raised by the defences are more appropriately determined when the factual issues relevant to them have been crystallised at trial,” Wigney said in a lengthy verbal judgment on Friday.

Wigney said some of the facts presented by Crikey in its defence – such as Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election – were “incontrovertible”.

“Others might be considered by some to be somewhat more controversial or contentious, for example, quote, hosts and guests on Fox News repeatedly cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, close quote.”

But he said Crikey should be allowed to plead them and they will be discussed in detail

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