ANDREW LAMING’S MAJOR VICTORY IN FURTHER DEFAMATION ACTIONS It was recently reported that former Federal MP for Bowman, Andrew Laming, could end up costing one of Australia’s leading media networks more than $1 million. In March of 2021, the Nine network ran a report on former federal MP Andrew Laming after he was falsely accused of taking an “upskirting” picture of Queensland woman Crystal White without her consent. At the time, it was alleged that the then-Bowman MP took the photo of the 29-year-old while she was on her knees stacking a bar fridge. Police received a formal complaint, but Dr Laming was never charged, and he has strenuously denied the allegations. Since then, Dr Laming has launched defamation proceedings against Nine, which could add up to an eye-watering figure. In fact, legal sources have speculated that Nine could be facing a payout figure of more than $1 million in total, including general damages, aggravated damages and special damages on top of legal costs. Nine recently amended its defence in the Federal Court, just six weeks before it was set to go to trial. According to the amended documents in question, Nine has withdrawn the most crucial claims included in the original news report, including that Dr Laming had taken the lewd picture of Ms White. It also mentioned that Dr Laming was “entitled to damages” as a result of the report’s defamatory imputations of the former politician, and Nine has now withdrawn its “truth” defence relating to the upskirting allegation. The about-face comes after journalists Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell amazingly won a prestigious Walkley Award – one of Australian journalism’s highest honours – earlier this year in the television/video news reporting category for their coverage. The story was subsequently picked up by a slew of other media organisations and high-profile reporters, including the ABC’s Louise Milligan and The Project’s Lisa Wilkinson. Both have been involved with ’settlements’ with Dr Laming. Andrew Laming has commented and says “Nine’s apology to me has just been read on to the record in the Federal Court. “The broadcaster has finally acknowledged that allegations they broadcast last year were not true. “I was denied due process and a fair hearing in the media. Two week ago, Nine dropped all of its defences to my claim. “It has since acknowledged seeing material convincing it to unreservedly withdraw the serious allegations it made; and to to publicly apologise to me and my family. “It is highly commendable that they, like many senior political and media figures previously have agreed to right wrongs and apologise when presented with the facts. “The stream of bizarre allegations came from political critics. None of it was true. Dr Laming said "hysteria" at the time had cost him his political career and caused immense distress to his wife and two daughters. He said he felt "bitterly disappointed" by the lack of support given to him by former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison during that time, leaving him feeling "particularly exposed". "Of course, I'm bitterly disappointed at two levels – [Scott Morrison] failed to give due process, failed to obtain details of these accusations, looked me in the eye and said that there wasn't a problem and within one day had done a press conference calling me disgraceful," he said. Interesting for the Redlands and the Islands, Dr Laming indicated he is hoping for a political comeback at a Queensland State level with the LNP. "I'm sticking with the LNP because they've stuck with me," he said. “I am grateful to the unwavering support of my Redland community, my wife Olesja, Sophie and Isobel, and the 50 friends and colleagues who swore affidavits in these proceedings.” Andrew Laming also thanked his barristers and legal team for ‘this amazing outcome’.
• Andrew Laming