Defamation case against Alan Jones continues in Brisbane’s Supreme Court
ONE of the brothers suing Alan Jones for $4.8 million in defamation thought the broadcaster was going mad when he accused the Wagner family of being responsible for 12 deaths in the 2011 Queensland floods.
Neil Wagner is giving evidence in Brisbane Supreme Court, where he and brothers Denis, John and Joe are suing the talkback host, Harbour Radio, 4BC and journalist Nick Cater.
The Wagners say Jones accused them of being responsible for 12 deaths at Grantham during the 2011 floods, when one of the walls of the Lockyer Valley quarry they owned collapsed.
During an emotional session in the witness box Neil Wagner broke down several times as he was questioned about the effect of Jones’ comments on his family during 32 broadcasts in 2014 and 2015.
“I thought this bloke was going mad, senile,” he said.
But as the alleged defamation continued, it began to have a negative effect on their reputation in the community, he told the court.
“It was very difficult,” Mr Wagner said. “The anger was there but you couldn’t show it.”
Mr Wagner told the court of a time he was called by his wife of 23 years, who had started to doubt him following what Jones said about the quarry and the flood deaths.
“What are you doing? What have you done?” he said she asked him.
“I think she thought I was going to jail.”
Mr Wagner said the broadcasts resulted in his family’s name becoming known for the wrong reasons.
“They know us for something we didn’t do,” he said.
As well as Jones’ comments about floods and deaths at Grantham, the Wagners claim they were subjected to constant abuse.
That included accusations of a high-level cover-up with politicians, corruption and intimidation.
The judge-only trial is expected to run for about seven weeks.