THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has lost a court bid to seal internal communications that could support a claim that it acted “with malice” when splicing horrifying footage of racehorses in an abattoir into an interview with Racing NSW chief Peter V’landys.
Mr V’landys, who heads up the state’s horse racing industry and regulatory body, fronted cameras for the ABC’s 7:30 program last year to speak about treatment of racehorses.
He outlined the steps his organisation had taken to stop retired thoroughbreds being sent to knackeries in NSW. The ABC, in the program, ran footage of horses being brutally butchered in a Queensland abattoir.
The racing chief alleges he was defamed and the interview was an “ambush” that denied him a chance to explain he had no jurisdiction in Queensland and abhorred the treatment depicted in the footage.
Mr V’landys, on Monday, won a technical but significant victory in the defamation case when the Federal Court granted his legal team the right to review the ABC’s internal documents related to the segment.
His lawyers will likely seek the communications between ABC journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna and other staff who worked on the story.
Mr V’landys’ legal team will likely be seeking to pinpoint who decided to splice the footage of the Queensland abattoir into the interview among other editorial decisions they say contributed to injuring his reputation.
Justice Michael Wigney, on Monday, also ordered that some members of the ABC will have to provide information under oath though it’s unclear, at this stage, who will be required to give the sworn evidence.