Sydney magistrate settles defamation case against radio station
Defamation July 3, 2018 9:46 pm By Miklos Bolza | Sydney

Sydney magistrate Joan Baptie has agreed to settle a defamation case brought against the owner of radio station 2GB after an on-air apology by host Ben Fordham.

Judge Baptie commenced a defamation action against the owner of 2GB, Harbour Radio, and Fordham in July 2017 following a radio segment in August 2016 titled “EXCLUSIVE: Magistrate Has Questions to Answer”.

In the segment, which has now been removed from the 2GB website, Fordham discussed information gleaned from an anonymous source on Judge Baptie’s decisions to grant bail to Martin Place siege gunman Man Haron Monis and another individual who was claimed to be a sexual offender.

“We always try to get things right on this program all the time, but when we don’t it’s important to correct the record,” Fordham said live on air on June 15.

“In August of 2016 I spoke about the magistrate Joan Baptie during a segment of this show. I made allegations about Joan Baptie that were false and defamatory and that I now regret. I apologise to Magistrate Baptie for the comments that I made and I unreservedly withdraw them.”

Judge Baptie’s barrister, Hussein Elachkar, represented both parties in the Federal Court on Tuesday and informed Justice Michael Wigney that the proceedings would be finalised. This case management hearing was the first after the two parties entered mediation on May 17.

The final settlement amount remains confidential. No orders for costs have been made.

Judge Baptie did not respond to a request for comment.

Judge Baptie was represented by McLachlan Thorpe Partners. Harbour Radio was represented by Banki Haddock Fiora.

The case is Joan Baptie v Harbour Radio Pty Ltd.

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Miklos Bolza

Miklos Bolza has been a journalist for three years. He has written for a variety of publications, including NZ Lawyer, HRD Australia, and Australian Broker. He is currently the Sydney court reporter for Lawyerly.