Media scion Lachlan Murdoch has dropped a defamation lawsuit against the publisher of the Australian news site Crikey, days after Fox News agreed to pay out $787.5m over false claims the 2020 election was stolen from former United States President Donald Trump.
Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corporation, sued last year over a Crikey opinion piece that he said made “scandalous allegations” about his alleged complicity in the January 6 riots at the US Capitol, including that his family were “unindicted co-conspirators” in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.
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Murdoch’s lawyer in Australia said on Friday that his client believed he would have won the case but did not want to enable the outlet to continue airing claims about the recently-settled defamation case against Fox News to “attract subscribers and boost their profits”.
Fox News on Tuesday agreed to pay a $787.5m settlement to voting machine firm Dominion Voting Systems for falsely suggesting it rigged the 2020 presidential election in favour of US President Joe Biden.
“It is a matter of public record that Crikey admits that there is no truth to the imputations that were made about Mr Murdoch in the article,” Murdoch’s lawyer, John Churchill, said.
“In their latest attempt to change their defence strategy, Crikey has tried to introduce thousands of pages of documents from a defamation case in another jurisdiction, which has now settled.”
Private Media, Crikey’s Melbourne-based publisher, described Murdoch’s decision to drop the case as “a substantial victory for legitimate public interest journalism”.
“We stand by what we published last June,” the company said in a statement.
“The fact is, Murdoch sued us, and then dropped his case. We are proud to have exposed the hypocrisy and abuse of power of a media billionaire. This is a victory for free speech. We won.”
A federal court judge had earlier this month ordered the parties to enter a second round of mediation ahead of a trial scheduled for October, saying the case was being driven more by “ego and hubris and ideology than anything else”.