Lachlan Murdoch has paid Private Media $1.3 million in legal costs, more than the $1.1 million requested by the Crikey publisher, marking the end of the high-profile media showdown.
The revelation comes a week after Murdoch’s lawyer, John Churchill, told Private Media on August 14 that his client had agreed to pay the legal costs in full.
Murdoch dropped his defamation case against Private Media in April, just days after Fox News settled its case with Dominion Voting Systems in the United States.
The outcome of the Dominion case played a big role in Crikey’s eventual win. Crikey had updated its defence nine days before the case was dropped, looking to use testimony by both Murdochs as part of its own case.
Churchill said Private Media’s legal costs were paid in full, on condition from the Fox Corp CEO that the publisher kept its commitment to donating all the funds raised through a GoFundMe to the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom.
The total payment amounted to $1,306,739.36 in costs, with Private Media committed to donating $588,735 of crowd-funded money to the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom, a statement read.
Churchill noted again that Crikey admitted there was no truth to the imputations that were made about Murdoch in the article, and once again that Murdoch remains confident the court would have ultimately ruled in his favour.
“Mr Murdoch said when he discontinued the proceedings that he did not wish to further enable Crikey’s use of the court to litigate a case from another jurisdiction that has already been settled and facilitate a marketing campaign designed to attract subscribers and boost their profits.”
Private Media CEO Will Hayward confirmed to this masthead the company’s intention to donate the money to the AJF, commenting they are “delighted” with the outcome.
“It’s a very big day for us,” Hayward added.
Federal Court defamation proceedings were filed against Crikey last August, the action taken over a June 29, 2022, article by politics editor Bernard Keane, which referred to Murdoch’s family as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the US Capitol riots in January 2021.
The article did not name Lachlan Murdoch but referred to “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators”.
Speaking to this masthead in June, Hayward declined to comment on Churchill’s allegations Private Media used the legal case as a subscriber campaign, though he said a figure in the region of 5000 new sign-ups since the publication of the article sounded “about right”.
At its standard yearly price point, 5000 retained subscribers amounts to annual revenue of $995,000.
An internal source at Crikey told this masthead that the increased subscriber numbers took its total figure to the “high 20[thousand]s”, that figure tripling in the past three years.
The news, revealed by Crikey on Tuesday, comes on the same day it has launched a new editorial series called The Murdoch Century, authored by Keane, examining the legacy of Rupert Murdoch, father of Lachlan and executive chairman of News Corp.
Source: Thanks smh.com