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Lachlan Murdoch has won a defamation lawsuit against online publisher Crikey.

News agency Crikey was advised by Lachlan Murdoch that it was a “narrative hook” needed to appeal to a wider audience, the court heard.

Murdoch’s attorney, Sue Chrysantoo SC, told federal court today that Cricky made $1 million in new subscribers and donations after the lawsuit began.

Fox CEO claims June 2022 article by political editor Bernard Keene defamed his family by calling them ‘unindicted co-conspirators’ in Capitol riots doing.

He sued Keane, Crikey’s editor-in-chief Peter Frey, and its parent company, Private Media. They denied the article was defamatory and argued for a new public interest defense against the media.

Today, Private Media Chairman Eric Beecher and CEO Will Hayward were added as the fourth and fifth defendants after Murdoch filed an amendment to his lawsuit.

Chrysanthou alleges that documents obtained during the course of the lawsuit show that Crikey’s superiors “fabricated” the lawsuit and lied to readers.

The court heard that the article was taken down on June 30, the day after Murdoch sent a notice of concern, but was republished on August 15.

Hayward said in an email to public relations firm Populars on August 8 that he believed Murdoch had no intention of filing a lawsuit.

“I feel it is unlikely they will issue a warrant. This concerns me,” the court heard him write.

Chrysanthou claimed that Beecher and Hayward were the “leaders” behind a campaign designed to raise Crikey’s profile through the “David and Goliath” battle.

The court heard that Private Media attorney Michael Bradley introduced Private Media bosses to Populars on July 26.

In an email, Bradley said, “Crikey is about to get into a big fight and needs help from a campaign management expert.

Crikey Editor-in-Chief Peter Frey.(ABC News: Ursula Malone)

Chrisantou said that was the day before he sent Murdoch an offer of “so-called” compensation.

Mr Murdoch’s lawyers alleged that an article in the Sydney Morning Herald citing Mr Frey about the legal battle was used as a “pretext” for reprinting Mr Keane’s story.

Chrysanthou now claims to show an email chain indicating that Crikey decided to republish the article as part of a “pre-planned and prepared public relations campaign.”

“The Herald article had nothing to do with it. Respondent planned. [to republish] …before they heard it,” she said.

When Keane’s story was republished on August 15, a line was added after the Herald’s story that it was done to “clean up recent media coverage.”

In a Herald article, Frey said Crikey is “tired of being blackmailed by Lachlan Murdoch.”

Ms Chrysanthou told the court today that this was a lie and that Crikey bosses deliberately “tried to escalate and aggravate the case” even though they believed that Mr Murdoch had no intention of filing a lawsuit. told to

The court said Populars, if sued by Murdoch, could aggressively position Crikey for “a moral victory to increase subscriber numbers.”

“Our key analysis is that for this campaign to succeed, Lachlan Murdoch would have to launch a defamation campaign against the publisher,” the court said.

“This kicks off the narrative hook to appeal to a wider audience.”

Murdoch initiated the proceedings on August 23. After the media paid him $50,000 for an ad published in the New York Times privately suing Mr. Murdoch.

The court was told after the lawsuit that Crikey had sold 5,000 new subscriptions. This was “his $500,000 in the windfall” and was done at a discounted “Lachlan Murdoch rate.”

More than $500,000 was also donated to the fundraising page for the legal battle with Mr. Murdoch.

Chrysanthou said, “The commercial objectives that respondents sought to achieve were achieved by increasing subscriptions.”

“They benefited financially from the proceedings.”

Private media’s Michael Hodge KC argued that Murdoch should not be allowed to initiate a new course of action five months after the defamation lawsuit began.

Hodge countered suggestions that Populars’ advice “in some way guided” the actions of Crikey and Private Media, who were waiting to see if Murdoch would file a lawsuit.

But Judge Michael Wignney ruled in Murdoch’s favor, adding Beecher and Hayward as defendants.

Earlier, the judge said the documents gave the case a “new color”.

The trial set for March was vacated and a new date was scheduled for October 9, 2023.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-30/lachlan-murdoch-claims-crikey-benefited-from-defamation-case/101906200 Lachlan Murdoch has won a defamation lawsuit against online publisher Crikey.

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