Australian news site Crikey sold subscriptions worth $500,000, raised funds and sold merchandise on the strength of Lachlan Murdoch’s now abandoned defamation case.
The claim was made in statements by Murdoch’s lawyer John Churchill in an announcement that he would not continue with the case after Crikey had sought to introduce “thousands of irrelevant documents” regarding the Fox News US defamation case with Dominion Voting Systems which has now ended with a A$1 billion-plus settlement.
The news was broken in News Corp’s The Australian in a report headlined with a characteristically Australian reference to the “defo” case.
Meanwhile Guardian Australia said it understood Crikey publisher Private Media was blindsided by the announcement and was likely to demand costs from Murdoch. A GoFundMe campaign launched by the publisher had raised $588,735, with donations currently disabled.
Murdoch had said he “did not wish to further enable the media company to manipulate court proceedings into “a marketing campaign designed to attract subscribers and boost their profits”.
Churchill said Murdoch remained confident that the court would ultimately find in his favour, “however he does not wish to further enable Crikey’s use of the court to litigate a case from another jurisdiction that has already been settled and facilitate a marketing campaign designed to attract subscribers and boost their profits.”
Churchill said it was “a matter of public record” that Crikey admitted that there was no truth to the imputations that were made about Lachlan Murdoch in the article.
Private Media chief executive Will Hayward described the moves as “a substantial victory for legitimate public interest journalism”, adding.”the fact is, Murdoch sued us, and then dropped his case.”