Original Source: The Guardian, Michael McGowan
The state Nationals leader is also suing Google for not removing two YouTube videos posted by the comedian whose real name is Jordan Shanks
The New South Wales deputy premier, John Barilaro, is suing the YouTube comedian Jordan Shanks for defamation.
In a statement of claim lodged in the federal court on Thursday, lawyers for Barilaro say Shanks, a former male model who uses the nom de plume Friendlyjordies in his popular YouTube videos, defamed the deputy premier in a series of “vile and racist” videos that had brought him into “public disrepute, odium, ridicule and contempt”.
Court documents reveal Barilaro is also suing tech company Google for its failure to remove two YouTube videos posted by Shanks.
Barilaro is understood to have briefed the star silk Sue Chrysanthou SC for the case. It comes after the high-profile barrister, who has previously represented the actor Geoffrey Rush and the Greens MP Sarah Hanson-Young, was restrained from acting for the former federal attorney general Christian Porter in his unrelated defamation claim against the ABC this week.
Shanks, who often features state and federal Labor MPs in his videos, has been routinely critical of Barilaro. Court documents reveal Barilaro is suing over a series of videos posted in September and October last year.
The first, which Shanks filmed inside an Albury property owned by Barilaro which he had rented on Airbnb, has been viewed more than 600,000 times. Barilaro alleges both of the videos portrayed him as acting corruptly. He also alleges that Shanks had launched a series of “racist attacks” in the videos.
“By reason of the publication of [the videos] the applicant has been greatly injured in his personal and professional reputation and has been and will be brought into public disrepute, odium, ridicule and contempt,” the statement of claim reads.
The claim comes after a long-running battle behind the scenes.
Earlier this month the Daily Telegraph revealed the lawyer Paul Svilans had been enlisted to send a letter to Shanks on behalf of Barilaro that claimed the “vile and racist attacks” had hurt the deputy premier and were “beneath contempt”.
The letter demanded Shanks remove the videos and apologise, however Shanks has since released a 44-minute video criticising Svilans and waving the legal letter in front of the camera. Barilaro’s statement of claim says the “mocking and goading” of the request, plus a series of other videos, amounted to a wider “smear campaign” against the MP.
In a statement to the Guardian, Shanks said “this suit could have terrible implications for free speech in this country”.
Barilaro’s long-mooted legal action also includes a claim against Google for its failure to remove the videos despite requests from the deputy premier’s lawyers. The court documents state Google had failed to remove the videos despite being alerted to their “racist and vile” content, and did not respond to detailed correspondence laying out the alleged slurs made by Shanks.