Google admits John Barilaro was defamed in YouTube videos, court told

Internet giant Google has agreed it published defamatory allegations about former New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro in two YouTube videos. When the case goes to trial next week, it will mainly consider the amount of damages, a court has heard.

Mr Barilaro sued Google, owner of YouTube, and political commentator Jordan Shanks in Federal Court last year, alleging he had been defamed by videos posted on the Friendlyjordies channel titled bruz and secret dictatorship.

Former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro pictured in October 2021.Credit:Dominique Lorrimer

He argued that one of the videos defamed him by portraying him as a corrupt con man who committed perjury nine times, should be jailed, bribedly donated $3.3million to a beef company and bribedly voted against a royal commission on water theft.

Mr Barilaro argued the other video falsely suggested he had blackmailed Narrandera councilors in the NSW Riverina area using taxpayers’ money and pocketed millions stolen from the council.

He settled the case against Mr Shanks in November last year, with Mr Shanks apologizing through his lawyer and editing parts of both videos. Google disagreed, initially arguing a series of defenses including qualified privilege and honest opinion.

Jordan Shanks, pictured in October, was also sued by Mr Barilaro before the case was settled

Jordan Shanks, pictured in October, was also sued by Mr Barilaro before the case was settledCredit:Kate Geraghty

On Friday, Mr. Barilaro’s lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou, SC, told the court that those defenses have now been dropped and that the only remaining defense is public interest, which can only apply to posts made after July 1, 2021, when the new defamation law came into effect.

Ms Chrysanthou said that means Google has no defense for the rest of the time the videos were posted, from December 2020 to June 2021, and he admitted late Friday morning that the claims in the video were defamatory.

“We now have a situation where from December 2020 to June 30, 2021, the publication is admitted by Google. It is now admitted that the imputations, all of them, are carried and defamatory. It is accepted that there is no defense against these seven months or six months of publication,” Ms. Chrysanthou said.

Raymond T. Helms