CEO of Blue Mountains City council suing shock jock for defamation

Being sued: Ray Hadley. Image

Being sued: Ray Hadley. Image

The CEO of Blue Mountains council, Rosemary Dillon, is suing 2GB shock jock Ray Hadley and Macquarie Media for defamation over Hadley's claims that she lied to a public inquiry.

Ms Dillon says Hadley defamed her in a broadcast on May 16 this year, a defamation repeated when an audiolink was later posted on the 2GB website.

Ms Dillon gave evidence to the public inquiry into council during its initial phase looking at whether there was a conflict of interest over its appointment of Michael Tooma to investigate asbestos mismanagement.

Hadley had sparked that part of the inquiry by claiming that Mr Tooma was "best mates" with Mark Mulligan, a safety consultant at council, and should not have been appointed.

Ms Dillon and others gave evidence that Mr Mulligan had nothing to do with asbestos mismanagement.

Suing for defamation: Rosemary Dillon.

Suing for defamation: Rosemary Dillon.

Inquiry commissioner Richard Beasley's report rejected all of Hadley's claims (apart from one, that Mr Tooma had thanked Mr Mulligan for his feedback in a book he wrote).

Mr Beasley concluded: "Of the significant allegations made by Mr Hadley from February 13-15, 2018, none were factually accurate."

He also found Mr Mulligan had never been chief safety officer, as Hadley alleged, and had no significant role in developing asbestos policy.

Hadley hit back after Mr Beasley published his report, saying that Ms Dillon and another employee had misled the commissioner.

He said: "It's an absolute disgrace that the general manager of council and... [a council employee] misled the commissioner, in my opinion. Because his findings seem to rely on the fact that Mulligan had nothing to do with asbestos, which is just a lie."

Mr Beasley reopened his inquiry after Hadley's comments and in a second report, again dismissed claims he had been lied to.

Hadley's remarks are now the subject of Ms Dillon's defamation action in the Federal Court.

Her statement of claim says Hadley's remarks carried a number of imputations, including that:

  • She deliberately lied when giving evidence to the public inquiry;
  • She was a perjurer;
  • She knowingly misled the inquiry; and
  • By her conduct in giving misleading evidence she is unfit to be general manager of council.

She alleges that her character and reputation have been injured, that she has been brought into public disrepute and that she has suffered loss and damages.

She is seeking aggravated damages because Macquarie Media refused to publish a retraction or apology and because Hadley failed to verify the accuracy of his allegations before making them.

Macquarie Media also failed to take down the link from the website, even after Mr Beasley's second report found that Ms Dillon had given truthful and reliable evidence.

A case management hearing of the matter was before Justice Michael Wigney in the Federal Court this morning [December 5].