Ex-NSW MP Stoner drops suit against Jones
Ex-NSW deputy premier and former state Nationals leader Andrew Stoner has dropped defamation proceedings against broadcaster Alan Jones and Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
Jones was not in court to see Justice Lucy McCullum order that the proceedings be vacated, but Mr Buckingham was in the public gallery and spoke outside court.
“This is a great day for me personally and, I think, for free speech in NSW,” Mr Buckingham said.
“There were no conditions on the settlement. We did not provide an apology, we are not paying any of Andrew Stoner’s costs, and he didn’t get one red bloody cent out of the Greens, myself or Alan Jones … we’re claiming it as a profound victory.”
The case was withdrawn days after Mr Buckingham and Mr Jones filed their defence, which Mr Stoner’s lawyers sought to block from public release because it was “scandalous”.
It is understood the defendants’ lawyers had flagged an intention to cross-examine Mr Stoner about recent revelations he had been targeted while in office by online extortionists.
Mr Buckingham said the suit – launched in response to a series of monologues and interviews on Mr Jones’s radio show – was a “political attack” that should never have been brought.
The claims aired included that the since-retired MP was “gutless” and favoured the mining industry’s interests over those of the community.
“This case came within days of the election, when both Mr Jones and myself were vigorously holding the government to account over the issues of coalmining in the Liverpool Plains, coal seam gas, and (the coalition’s) standards of governance,” he said.
The Greens MP has called for defamation laws to be reformed and for NSW Premier Mike Baird to thoroughly investigate the blackmail allegations that have enveloped Mr Stoner “because it goes to the integrity of decision-making at the highest levels of our government”.
Comment is being sought from Mr Jones.