Erin Molan's $150k win as ugly court saga comes to an end

·3-min read
Erin Molan has been awarded $150k in damages after winning her defamation case against the Daily Mail. Pic: Getty
Erin Molan has been awarded $150k in damages after winning her defamation case against the Daily Mail. Pic: Getty

Erin Molan has won her Federal Court defamation case against Daily Mail Australia with the online publication ordered to pay $150,000 in damages after portraying the broadcaster as a racist.

Justice Robert Bromwich found in favour of five pleaded imputations but said in his published reasons on Tuesday that both sides had a "measure of success and a measure of failure".

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He said the sum should sufficiently meet the "sting" of the June 2020 online article that referred to her saying "hooka looka mooka hooka fooka" on 2GB in May 2020.

"Dailymail.com needs to substantially improve the care that it takes, or face further and greater awards of damages," Justice Bromwich said in his judgment.

"Freedom of expression must be balanced with responsibility and basic professionalism which was sadly lacking in this case."

Erin Molan's legal team told court her reputation was damaged as a result of the Daily Mail's reporting. Pic: Getty
Erin Molan's legal team told court her reputation was damaged as a result of the Daily Mail's reporting. Pic: Getty

The news website had argued a defence of truth, with barrister Bruce McClintock SC saying in September 2021 that her attempts of various ethnic groups' accents are forms of "ugly racial stereotypes".

The 40-year-old denied she was mocking Polynesian names, deliberately mispronouncing them for a laugh or speaking in an accent during the broadcast.

Rather, the former 2GB rugby league show co-host was making light of Ray and Chris Warren mixing up the end of players' names and she was "poking fun of her colleagues", she told the Federal Court.

Not Erin Molan's intention to cause offence

Molan made an on-air statement shortly after the article's publication saying she would never "intentionally offend anybody or hurt anyone's feelings" and was very sorry if she had done that.

But she was still subject to a barrage of online abuse and violent threats that left her traumatised, she told the court.

Mr McClintock said Molan showed a lack of contrition and her deficient insight about the effect of her mocking was "tellingly revealed" when she compared it to being "teased in the playground or by her co-hosts".

The trial was played more than a dozen studio tapes that Mr McClintock said showed despicable acts of racism.

In one she says, "I wuv you very long time, very handsome man", but Molan said she was quoting lines from a famous movie rather than trying to imitate the Chinese character.

Justice Bromwich has allowed Molan to be heard on an injunction to take down the Dailymail.com article if it has not already been removed.

He said it would be advisable for the online publication to promptly follow through with the action after his verdict.

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