Australian broadcaster Alan Jones and two Macquarie Media-owned radio stations, 2GB and 4BC, must pay nearly Australian $4 million (almost $3 million U.S.) to a Brisbane-area family named the Wagners after claiming they were responsible for 2011 flood-deaths of 12 people. The Wagner family is “one of Australia’s richest families,” the Australian Financial Review reported. Jones’ comments about John, Denis, Neill and Joe Wagner, began in 2014, according to Australia’s Nine News.
“The allegations included the suggestion that the Wagner family were responsible for the deaths of 12 people, when a quarry wall owned by the family collapsed in the 2011 Grantham floods,” the Australian Broadcasting Corp. explained. “The 12 died in flash flooding around Grantham in the Lockyer Valley on 10 January 2011. The broadcasts also alleged that the brothers had illegally built the Wellcamp Airport and had stolen airspace from the Oakey Army Base.”
Macquarie Media provided iMediaEthics with a statement from its CEO Adam Lang saying 2GB is “disappointed” by the ruling and the two networks as well as Jones are “considering carefully their appeal options.” Jones is quoted as saying he feels he “somehow let down” people whose “concerns” he wanted “to ventilate.” The statements noted that there are injunctions preventing detailed comment.
However, the Australian Financial Review noted, “the Grantham Flood Inquiry found the quarry had nothing to do with the impact of the heavy rain and flooding which would have happened regardless.”
Jones’ comments were “self-evidently vicious and spiteful,” Justice Peter Flanagan ruled, according to the Guardian.
iMediaEthics has written to representatives of the Wagners for comment.