John Wagner told Brisbane Supreme Court the broadcasts had been devastating for his family.
John Wagner told Brisbane Supreme Court the broadcasts had been devastating for his family. DAN PELED/AAP

'Hey Dad, they're calling you a murderer'

A POWERFUL businessman has spoken tearfully of feeling "powerless" after "tirades" from broadcaster Alan Jones.

John Wagner told a court his kids would come home and say: "Hey Dad, they're all talking about you at school. They're calling you a murderer."

Mr Wagner testified on Monday, the first day of a seven-week defamation trial.

Dennis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner have gone to Brisbane Supreme Court over comments Mr Jones made after the fatal 2011 Grantham floods.

The Wagners have argued broadcasts contained "imputations" wrongly suggesting they were to blame for deaths, or for floods when a quarry wall or levee breached or collapsed.

John Wagner, 57, said any suggestions he was to blame for fatalities, were "indefensible, disgusting, despicable."

The court heard Mr Wagner had already sued other media outlets.

"These people were responsible, collectively ... in destroying our reputation," John Wagner said.

The Wagners are now suing Mr Jones, Radio 4BC Brisbane, journalist Nick Cater and Harbour Radio.

Mr Wagner said complaints to a media regulator were ineffectual, as were attempts to have Mr Jones "tone down" broadcasts.

"I've been listening to Alan Jones, unfortunately, since the day he started to abuse us on national radio, and that goes back long before these broadcasts. We've copped it every day, every single day."

Later, Mr Wagner said it may be an exaggeration to describe Mr Jones's attacks as "daily", but they were still "extensive, very targeted and malicious".

He said Mr Jones had incorrectly criticised the family over other issues, including Toowoomba Wellcamp airport.

Mr Wagner was asked why he never went on Mr Jones's show.

"The advice that I got clearly was, this guy's the best orator in the country, I'm a truck driver. What chance would I have?"

But the court heard the Wagners had engaged with other media, including radio.

Mr Wagner claimed the broadcaster called him a "murderer" and a "thief".

Mr Jones previously maintained he was acting in a community's best interests.

Outside court on Monday, he said he was following instructions not to comment on the case.

The judge-only trial before Justice Peter Flanagan continues. -NewsRegional

News Corp Australia


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