Alan Jones accused of extraordinary attacks on Wagners
BROADCASTER Alan Jones has been accused of a string of extraordinary and baseless attacks on one of Queensland's most prominent families on the opening day of his defamation lawsuit.
The Toowoomba-based Wagner family is suing the talkback radio host over comments he made during 32 broadcasts in 2014 and 2015.
Most were made on stations 2GB and 4BC, while one was made on Jones' Sky News television program.
Tom Blackburn SC told Brisbane Supreme Court today his clients, the four Wagner brothers, had been subjected to a torrent of extraordinary attacks by Australia's most influential broadcaster.
Mr Blackburn said Mr Jones obsessively accused the family of being responsible for the deaths of 12 people in Grantham during the 2011 floods, when one of the walls of a Lockyer Valley quarry it owned collapsed.
"All of his allegations, including this one, were accompanied by another message: that the plaintiffs are cruel, selfish and lawless people that pursue their goals through corruption, cronyism, intimidation and criminality," he told the court.
"It will be our submission at the end of this case that there is not an ounce of evidence for those grave allegations that Mr Jones has made."
Mr Blackburn said Mr Jones also used his broadcasts to accuse the Wagner brothers of engaging in a "high-level cover-up" with then Queensland premier Anna Bligh and deputy prime minister Wayne Swan.
"Those allegations have been dropped very recently," he said.
The court heard Mr Jones had abandoned the defence of truth with respect to several of the allegations.
Mr Blackburn said despite this there had been no apology and the radio broadcaster maintained the Wagner family had engaged in lying, intimidation and a cover-up, just not those involving politicians.
Mr Jones' barrister did not make an opening statement but the court heard his client also intended to rely on honest opinion as a defence.
The trial is expected to run several weeks.