Star's win in stoush over ‘racist’ article
Channel 9 star Erin Molan won't be required to answer questions about her reaction to an infamous moment on the Footy Show until her defamation battle with the Daily Mail goes to trial.
The sports presenter is suing the online tabloid for defamation over an article about her saying "hooka looka mooka hooka fooka" on 2GB's Continuous Call Team show.
Ms Molan argues the story falsely painted her as racist and an "arrogant white woman of privilege", and claims the publisher made up a quote about the comment being an "in-joke" and falsely reported that she refused to apologise.
Lawyers for the Daily Mail wanted to ask Ms Molan questions about a gaffe on the Footy Show in 2017, when host Paul Vautin made a comment about an Indigenous audience member.
But a judge on Thursday labelled the Daily Mail's application as "fishing", ruling it was an attempt to bolster its defence case.
Justice Robert Bromwich said the media organisation's lawyers could just ask the questions when she gives evidence at the trial.
" … the proposed interrogation is evidently designed not for the narrowing or focusing of the case, but to open it up further," he wrote in his judgment.
"I do not accept that this sort of fishing is an appropriate, let alone necessary, use of interrogatories."
The Daily Mail has filed a 61-page truth defence, which details 24 conversations from the rugby league podcast it says proves Ms Molan is racist.
The segment on the now-axed Footy Show they had also wanted to question Molan about involved an audience member who had just won $6600 in a game called 'Pass for Pesos'.
Vautin, who was wearing a sombrero, said to the man of Indigenous heritage : "All of your relations in Cairns just went 'How good, I can't wait until he gets back, we're having a drink'."
Barrister Matthew Richardson, acting for the Daily Mail, told the court Ms Molan was seen to laugh at the comment that drew an awkward silence from the audience and criticism in the media.
Mr Richardson said it was "highly relevant" to the defence case to know if Molan was aware the man was Indigneous or made a subsequent complaint to her employers.
"Our submission, and this is clear from the defence, is that when these crude accents and obnoxious racial stereotyping occurs and (Molan) either laughs or says things like, 'Oh was that racist?', that she's complicit," he said.
Ms Molan's barrister Lyndelle Barnett said the Daily Mail's argument was "incredibly weak" and stressed her client "did not make the comment herself".
Ms Barnett said Ms Molan could be asked any questions about the incident during the upcoming trial and there was no need for her to provide written responses now.
Justice Bromwich did, however, rule in favour of the Mail's request to see more correspondence between Ms Molan and her employers regarding the story and the defamation case.
Noting that Ms Molan was willing to open up a sample of the communications in her own court documents, Justice Bromwich said the material in question was "unlikely to be voluminous or costly to isolate".
"I am satisfied that upon the applicant (Molan) having opened up these communications, the respondent is entitled to test the completeness of the communications selected to advance this aspect of her case," he said.
The matter will return to court for a hearing on August 30.
Originally published as Molan's win in stoush over 'racist' article