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ABC loses defamation case over Chinese-Australian 'spy' story

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Chinese-Australian billionaire Chau Chak Wing has been awarded $590,000 in damages after winning his defamation case over an ABC Four Corners episode.

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The businessman, philanthropist and political donor sued the broadcaster, Nine and Nick McKenzie, an investigative reporter at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, over the joint report.

McKenzie presented the 2017 program and the investigation included an accompanying article on the ABC website.

Dr Chau’s lawyers said the broadcast and article defamed their client in six ways, including by suggesting he is a spy who “betrayed his country, Australia, in order to serve the interests of a foreign power, China”.

They also said the publications suggested Dr Chau “donated enormous sums of money to Australian political parties as bribes intended to influence politicians to make decisions to advance the interests of the Republic of China, the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party”.

But the media organisations denied the imputations were conveyed, saying they were “overcooked” with Dr Chau’s lawyers having engaged in an over-elaborate search for hidden meanings.

In the Federal Court on Tuesday, Justice Steven Rares found in favour of Dr Chau, awarded him $590,000 and his legal costs, and restrained the ABC from republishing parts of the episode.

-AAP

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