In another example of defamation claims, former federal Labor candidate Nicole Cornes has won a defamation case against Channel 10 and comedian Mick Molloy. The comments Mick Molloy made on the television programme “Before the Game” in 2008 have now been found by a South Australian Supreme Court to be Slander. Ms Cornes claimed on-air comments Molloy made in 2008 questioned her fidelity and damaged her reputation, humiliated her and defamed her.
The court heard that in an interview with former AFL player Stuart Dew, Molloy suggested that Dew had slept with Ms Cornes – but his lawyers claimed it was made in jest.
Ms Cornes is married to former Adelaide Crows coach Graham Cornes, who gave evidence at trial that the comments upset him and he was sledged at football games after the program.
Graham Cornes said he was shocked Molloy would say such a thing on-air.
Lawyers for Channel 10 and Molloy argued the comment was pure absurdist humour, and a reasonable viewer would not have taken it seriously.
The South Australian Supreme Court ruled in favour of Ms Cornes, awarding $85,000 in damages. The court will hear submissions about how much interest and court costs to award Ms Cornes in addition to the damages.
Ms Cornes is best known as a former Labor candidate seeking to win unsuccessfully the Adelaide-based seat of Boothby at the 2007 federal election.
When it comes to comedians and allegations of defamatory comments, you must be able to convince the Court that it is clearly not serious and should be taken in jest. It must be clear that it would not be believed because of the humourous context it was given in. Molloy was unable to convince the Court of this and therefore the decision went against him.