Google will call YouTube comedian FriendlyJordies as witness in John Barilaro defamation case – ABC News

Google will call YouTuber FriendlyJordies as a witness in a defamation case brought by John Barilaro, in a move the former NSW deputy premier’s lawyer says will “no doubt aggravate the damage”. 

Mr Barilaro is suing in the Federal Court over the publication of a series of videos last year.

He has discontinued the case against Jordan Shanks, aka FriendlyJordies, after the satirist’s barrister read out an apology in court earlier this month, accepting some of the videos were offensive to the politician.

Portions of the sketches that attracted defamation allegations were edited out, but the case against Google continues.

Barrister Lyndelle Barnett, for Google, today told Justice Steven Rares the tech giant would call Mr Shanks, but would not be adducing all evidence it had previously planned.

The confirmation came as Mr Barilaro’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, pressed Google on Mr Shanks’s potential appearance after it “reserved the right” to call him.

She said it would be “some work” to cross-examine the satirist if he was called and suggested the tech giant would “no doubt aggravate the damage to my client by doing so”.

a man with a beard talking
Former Deputy Premier John Barilaro resigned from politics in early October.(AAP: Jenny Evans)

Ms Chrysanthou also accused Google of creating unnecessary “busy work” by seeking special orders, beyond the usual undertakings given by litigants, to protect confidentiality on parts of documents Google was asked to produce.

They were “apparently to protect people’s email addresses”, Ms Chrysanthou told the court.

“These are not state secrets,” she said.

“The notion that a person is allowed to either redact documents or prohibit access for something in the nature my friend describes is, with respect to her, absurd.”

Ms Barnett insisted Google was not arguing the documents should not be made available, but merely to “engage” with their opposition and seek recognition of “sensitivity” in some of the material.

a woman holding a binder walking outside a courthouse
Sue Chrysanthou SC is representing former deputy premier John Barilaro.(AAP: James Gourley)

Justice Rares questioned what could justify a confidentiality order, describing the request as “ridiculous” and “puerile”.

“This is just storms in teacups that are unnecessary,” the judge said.

Google also suggested Mr Barilaro gave “implied consent” for the edited videos to be published.

But the judge said the securing of a deal to remove parts of the video that gave rise to imputations did not mean Mr Barilaro consented to the rest of the videos being published.

Ms Chrysanthou described the consent argument as a “false issue”.

“We’re not happy that Google continues to publish videos that contain racist remarks, like ‘greaseball Ned Kelly’, but again that’s just a question of hurt,” she said.

The trial has been set down for 10 days in March.


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