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Clive Palmer and Mark McGowan libel lawsuit over as both win payouts

Sensational twist in Clive Palmer vs. Mark McGowan libel battle as BOTH are found guilty AND win payouts – as one walks away with a bigger sum

  • WA premier Mark McGowan and billionaire Clive Palmer court finally fight
  • The two were suing each other for defamation over public comments made
  • The Prime Minister received a larger payment, but both were found guilty of defamation
  • Palmer hoped for more than $430,000 from the prime minister but only got $5,000
  • McGowan awarded $20,000 after judge finds he was defamed more

Two years after calling Clive Palmer an “enemy of the state”, Mark McGowan was ordered to pay libel damages to the mining magnate, but will himself receive an even larger sum.

On Tuesday, Federal Court Judge Michael Lee delivered his long-awaited verdict in a libel suit between the billionaire and the Prime Minister of Western Australia.

Both were found guilty of defamation, with the prime minister receiving a slightly higher payout of $20,000, compared to the $5,000 awarded to Mr Palmer.

Judge Lee rejected all of their defenses and found that they had both defamed the other.

Prime Minister Mark McGowan was found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay Clive Palmer $5,000

Clive Palmer and Mark McGowan libel lawsuit over as both win payouts

Clive Palmer was also convicted and ordered to pay $20,000

In 2020, Mr Palmer sued Mr McGowan, claiming public comments the Labor premier had made about him damaged his reputation.

The Queensland businessman was seeking aggravated damages that could have allowed for a payment above the cap of $432,500.

Mr Palmer accused Mr McGowan of being consumed by malevolence and seeking to ‘blacken his name at every opportunity’.

Mr McGowan, who counter-sued for defamation, made his own appeal for aggravated damages.

The Prime Minister invoked qualified immunity as a defence. You have to prove that there was a legal, social or moral obligation for him to say these things.

Mr. Palmer defended various comments he made based on qualified privilege and substantive, contextual truth.

At the end of the trial in April, Judge Michael Lee said it was possible neither side could establish a defence.

He reported that each man could receive a nominal sum in damages, describing them as political fighters with entrenched reputations.

The libel bid is one of several legal challenges Mr Palmer has brought against the WA Premier, including a failed High Court bid for the state’s tough coronavirus-related border closure be deemed unconstitutional.

Clive Palmer and Mark McGowan libel lawsuit over as both win payouts

Mr Palmer (pictured with his wife Anna) has repeatedly taken Mr McGowan and the WA Government to court during the Covid pandemic

Clive Palmer and Mark McGowan libel lawsuit over as both win payouts

Mr McGowan wrote in reference to Mr Palmer: ‘He is the worst Australian not in jail’ in personal text messages to Attorney General John Quigley

It emerged in 2020 that Mr Palmer was seeking up to $30 billion in damages following a 2012 decision by the former Liberal state government not to assess his Balmoral South iron ore project.

The McGowan government then rushed through extraordinary legislation to prevent Mr. Palmer from suing the state.

In his testimony, Mr. Palmer said he was afraid because the provisions of the legislation protected the government from criminal prosecution.

Referring to the fictional character James Bond and his ‘license to kill’, Mr Palmer told the court: ‘I didn’t know what the limits might be.’

Any suggestion that Mr Palmer had a genuine fear for his physical safety was “intrinsically incredible”, Mr McGowan’s lawyers said.

In private text messages made public during the trial, Mr McGowan described Mr Palmer as ‘the worst Australian not in jail’.

His Attorney General John Quigley privately called Mr Palmer a “big fat liar”.


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