Defamation Case Examples: Comic Loses Slander Lawsuit Over Joke

defamation case example: politician v. comic
Defamation Case Example: An Australian Politician Wins Slander Lawsuit Against Celebrity Comic

Aussie Comic Mick Molloy and the Ten Network lost a defamation appeal involving jokes about former federal Labor candidate Nicole Cornes.

Defamation Case Examples: Politician v. Comic

Back in 2008, on Australian TV show Before The Game, comic Mick Molloy made some arguably sexist remarks about a female politician, Nicole Cornes.

Distressed by the comments, Cornes sued Molloy for defamation. Cornes alleged that Molloy, in conjunction with Ten Network, damaged her reputation by questioning her spousal fidelity. Her husband, Graham Cornes – a former Adelaide Crows Coach – was also peeved with the accusations.

Long story short: she won and collected $85,000.

Defendant Blasted Judge’s Intellectual Prowess After Losing

Ostensibly angry about the ruling, Molloy lobbed criticism at the judge, concluding that his jokes must have been “too intellectual” for the officiant to understand.

He also taunted that Before The Game viewers “got the jokes.” Besides, he insisted, they weren’t meant to cause harm.

But the Court disagreed with the funny man and denied Molloy’s appeal.

Judges Weren’t Feeling Molloy — or His Humor — in this Defamation Case Example

The three presiding judges issued blunt opinions. Justice Tom Gray wrote that Molloy’s quips were not “jocular or comedic in nature” or “humorous.” Chief Justice Chris Kourakis said the jokes “fell very flat.”

Short History of Defamation Law in Australia

In 1979 The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) issued a  report titled Unfair Publication: Defamation and Privacy, which called for country-wide defamation law unity. States were ordered to update slander and libel statutes in an attempt to  mollify cross-jurisdictional differences that resulted in inconsistent governance.

However, by 1998, things were still in a precarious state. Some states and territories had made changes; others didn’t. It would take another five years before Parliament gaveled in a single set of defamation laws and acceptable defenses.

The Australian Defamation Act of 2006 brought more uniformity to the country’s slander and libel laws.

Click here for a summary of Australian defamation laws.

Defamation Laws Around the World

If you have an interest in defamation laws around the world, check out the Kelly / Warner’s International Defamation Law Database. We’ve compiled a resource for people who want to know more about slander and libel standards around the globe.


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