John Barilaro, former NSW Deputy Premier has been awarded $715,000 for his defamation case against Google. A judge found he was subjected to a “relentless and vicious campaign” of cyberbullying that led him to resign from politics prematurely.
Barilaro sued Google which owns YouTube and Jordan Shanks also known as ‘friendlyjordies’ over two videos that accused him of corruption. Google agreed that the videos wrongfully suggested he was a conman who blackmailed councillors and he committed perjury by pocketing millions of dollars stolen from a council.
Justice Steven Rares said the videos about Barilaro were offensive and racist and they vilified him. He also said he might refer the case to the registrar of the Federal Court for consideration of a possible contempt prosecution that made baseless claims about Barilaro’s lawyers.
Barilaro’s case against Jordan Shanks was settled last November after he paid $100,000 in legal costs, issued Barilaro an apology, and edited the videos. Justice Rares said the videos contained serious and false defamatory imputations about Barilaro without any belief in the claims.
The words used by Jordan Shanks, a self-proclaimed comedian and political commentator, were nothing short of racist hate speech, Justice Rares commented. Google did not play a passive role and earned revenue from the videos. The videos provided a social media frenzy of disturbing and hateful comments which caused trauma for Barilaro and his family.
Barilaro stepped down in 2021, a lot earlier than he planned, which was to retire at the 2023 state election. Speaking outside of the court, Barilaro said it was not about the money, he was glad he had been vindicated and that legislation has not kept up with the new media and there is some work to be done federally.
He initially wanted an apology from Google, which never came, and for the videos to be taken down.