Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Google will call YouTuber FriendlyJordies as a witness in an injury lawsuit filed by John Barilaro, in a move that the former NSW Deputy Prime Minister’s lawyer says “will undoubtedly aggravate the damage”.

Barilaro is suing in federal court for the publication of a series of videos last year.

He has filed the case against Jordan Shanks, aka FriendlyJordies, after the satirist’s lawyer read out an apology in court earlier this month, accepting that some of the videos were offensive to the politician.

Parts of the sketches that attracted defamation were edited, but the case against Google continues.

Barrister Lyndelle Barnett, for Google, today told Judge Steven Rares that the technology giant would call Mr Shanks but would not present all the evidence it had previously planned.

The confirmation came when Mr Barilaro’s lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou SC, pressured Google on Mr Shanks’ potential actions after it “reserved the right” to call him.

She said it would be “some work” to cross-examine the satirist if he was called, and suggested that the technology giant “would no doubt aggravate the damage to my client by doing so”.

a man with a beard speaks
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro withdrew from politics in early October.(AAP: Jenny Evans)

Ms Chrysanthou also accused Google of creating unnecessary “busy work” by seeking special orders, in addition to the usual promises made by litigants, to protect the confidentiality of portions of documents Google was asked to produce.

They were “apparently to protect people’s email addresses,” Chrysanthou told the court.

“These are not state secrets,” she said.

“The notion that a person is allowed to either edit documents or prohibit access to anything of the nature that my friend describes is, with respect to her, absurd.”

Ms. Barnett insisted that Google did not argue that the documents should not be made available, but merely to “engage” their opposition and seek recognition of “sensitivity” in any of the material.

a woman holding a ring binder that goes outside a courthouse
Sue Chrysanthou SC represents former Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro.(AAP: James Gourley)

Justice Rares questioned what might justify a confidentiality order, describing the request as “ridiculous” and “pueril”.

“These are just storms in teacups that are unnecessary,” the judge said.

Google also suggested that Mr Barilaro give “implied consent” for the edited videos to be published.

But the judge said securing an agreement to remove parts of the video that gave rise to accusations did not mean Mr Barilaro accepted that the rest of the videos be made public.

Mrs Chrysanthou described the consent argument as a “false question”.

“We’re not happy that Google continues to publish videos that contain racist remarks, like ‘greaseball Ned Kelly,’ but again, it’s just a matter of hurt,” she said.

The trial is set for 10 days in March.

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