Chaser’s Julian Morrow loses four-year legal battle

Gun Rights

A bruising four-year legal battle between ABC personality Julian Morrow and former collaborator Nick Murray ended on Thursday, when the High Court denied the co-founder of The Chaser leave to appeal.

The country’s top court declined to hear appeals brought by Morrow and his barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, over a defamation and commercial dispute, ruling that both failed to raise a question of law of general importance and lacked an apparent prospect of success.

The four-year legal battle between ABC personality Julian Morrow and his former collaborator Nick Murray is now over.

The four-year legal battle between ABC personality Julian Morrow and his former collaborator Nick Murray is now over.Credit: Edwina Pickles

The dispute began when the ABC axed Murray and Morrow’s consumer affairs show The Checkout. While Murray’s production company CJZ agreed to sell its share in the show to Morrow’s Giant Dwarf, Morrow had been pitching a similar program to the ABC’s bosses behind his former friend’s back.

When a furious Murray refused to sign a deed of release, Morrow sued him for breaching the sale agreement. Murray sued back for misleading and deceptive conduct. Morrow also sued Murray for defamation over a series of angry emails he sent to ABC management, including one comparing the bald-headed comedian to Lord Voldemort.

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During the course of the litigation, Morrow called on a star-studded witness list that included former premier Kristina Keneally, Arts Minister Tony Burke, ex-ACCC chair Delia Rickard and the ABC’s Norman Swan.

While the NSW Supreme Court last year found in Morrow’s favour on the defamation case, he lost the commercial aspects. In June the Court of Appeal found against Morrow on all elements of the case, a judgment the Chaser co-founder’s legal team wanted the High Court to overturn.

But on Thursday the High Court dismissed Morrow’s leave application with costs, and after years in court he could be on the hook to pay Murray up to $2.5 million worth of legal bills. While noting that the marathon lawsuit was a “disaster” for all involved, Murray seemed chuffed about his victory. “Voldemort’s had a bad day,” he said.

Morrow didn’t respond to our requests for comment.

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PESKY PALMER

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer is wealthy and bored enough to pursue all manner of bizarre legal boondoggles.

But even by Palmer’s vexatious standards, his latest bit of lawfare against former Australian Securities and Investments Commission chair James Shipton seems all about the vibe of it.

On Thursday Palmer announced he would be commencing Federal Court proceedings seeking damages against Shipton for “serious breaches of duty”, claiming the former chair had “breached the ASIC act, acted in bad faith and acted for an improper purpose and beyond his power”.

CBD understands Palmer is suing Shipton under the “peculiar” and rarely successful tort of misfeasance in public office, which allows a private citizen to sue a public servant for causing harm by performing their duties in an illegal or unlawful manner.

All this goes back to 2018, when the regulator, then led by Shipton, charged Palmer with breaching takeover laws. Two years later it brought further charges against Palmer for breaching directors’ duties and fraud.

Those legal battles are ongoing, and earlier this year Brisbane magistrate Joe Pinder said Palmer “persistently, for more than three years, sought various challenges to delay these proceedings”.

All this seems like another excuse to drag the matters on and allow Palmer to do the kind of litigation he loves best. Shipton recently said he was left feeling suicidal by Palmer’s relentless and abusive ad campaign against him.

Palmer spent $4 million making Shipton’s life miserable. Two years on he still won’t leave him alone.

PATRIOT JAMES

Rumblings this week that Pauline Hanson’s political adviser James Ashby was about to enter politics grew to a roar when the One Nation senator called a press conference for Friday morning in Rockhampton to discuss next year’s Queensland election.

It’s been quite a journey for Ashby from regional FM radio announcer to right-hand man, chief strategist and pilot to Hanson, whose hardline views have lost much of their shock value over the years.

James Ashby with One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson.

James Ashby with One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Along the way there’s been the occasional court case, most notably Ashby’s allegations of sexual harassment against his former boss, then-speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper, as well as a memorable turn in the witness box last year in a defamation trial between Hanson and former One Nation senator Brian Burston.

And, of course, there was the eventful trip to the US to try to get a few bucks out of the National Rifle Association to fund Hanson’s electoral efforts here in Australia.

Nothing much came of it, other than an Al Jazeera sting spicier than your average Four Corners episode but, oh, just think about what might have been.

So you’d be silly, right, not to put a man with this effortless knack of drawing attention to himself up for a spot in the Queensland parliament?

We asked Ashby on Thursday if he had big news to impart in Rocky on Friday morning and he was uncharacteristically coy, confirming only that there was “lots going on within the party structure”.

So we’ll wait and see.

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