The media tycoon Lachlan Murdoch has withdrawn his defamation suit against the Australian news site Crikey, which linked his family to the attack on the US Capitol.
It comes days after Fox News paid a large settlement to vote machine manufacturer Dominion for false claims that Donald Trump’s 2020 election was hijacked.
Friday, attorneys for the CEO of Fox Corporation stated that continuing the litigation would only benefit the Crikey website.
It was deemed a significant victory for public interest journalism by Crikey.
Mr. Murdoch filed a lawsuit against Crikey last year in response to an opinion piece that he claimed contained “false” and “scandalous” allegations that he unlawfully conspired with the former U.S. president to incite a “murderous” mob to march into Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
In a statement, the business magnate’s attorney, John Churchill, expressed confidence that the October trial, which had been scheduled, would have gone in his favor.
“However, he does not wish to further enable Crikey’s use of the court to litigate a case from another jurisdiction that has already been settled and to facilitate a marketing campaign designed to attract subscribers and boost their profits,” Mr. Churchill said.
Legal experts have dubbed Australia “the defamation capital of the world” due to its stringent local laws that permit only limited defamation defenses.
Crikey, which was founded in 2000 and employs ten full-time journalists, intended to contend that its editorial was contextually accurate and in the public interest.
In court documents outlining its defense, it argued that Mr. Murdoch was morally and ethically responsible for the Capitol riot because, under his control and management, Fox News propagated false claims that the election had been stolen.
The publisher Private Media stated in a statement on Friday that the Dominion settlement earlier this week proved their case. Fox News avoided a defamation trial by making a last-minute $787.5m (£634m) payment to the machine company.
The publisher of Crikey announced victory against the media magnate.
“We maintain that Lachlan Murdoch was responsible for promoting the election result hoax in 2020,”
However, in his statement, Lachlan Murdoch’s attorney stated that the Dominion case had no bearing on the events of January 6 and that the trial judge had deemed it “irrelevant.”
Mr. Churchill’s statement stated,
“[Dominion] never argued that Mr. Murdoch was personally responsible.”
“However, Crikey has claimed and is attempting to argue the opposite in Australia,”
Crikey’s legal team plans to petition the court to order Mr. Murdoch to cover the publication’s legal fees.