Racing NSW chief Peter V'landys' case for defamation claim 'straightforward', court hears

Racing NSW chief Peter V'landys' case for defamation claim 'straightforward', court hears

A lawyer acting for Racing NSW chief Peter V’landys has described his claim for aggravated damages over an ABC expose about racehorse abuse as “pretty straightforward”.

Peter V’landys is suing the ABC and a journalist in the Federal Court for defamation following an episode of 7.30, which he claims painted him as though he “callously permitted the wholesale slaughter” of horses.

He is seeking aggravated damages over the segment titled ‘The Final Race”, aired in October 2019, which exposed disturbing details of thoroughbreds being killed in knackeries in NSW and Queensland.

It showed graphic footage of horses being kicked, dragged, shocked, bolted through the head and inhumanely slaughtered at an abattoir in Caboolture, north of Brisbane.

Lawyers previously told the court the national broadcaster did not disclose to Mr V’landys it had obtained the footage before he fronted an interview for the program.

Barrister Sue Chrysanthou, acting for Mr V’landys, told the court on Thursday that evidence for the NSW Racing chief executive’s aggravated damages claim had now been served.

The ABC’s barrister Clarissa Amato described claims contained in the evidence about how the program was produced as being “high, wide and handsome”.

Ms Amato said evidence had been served “woefully late”, three weeks after the agreed date, and the expected two-day hearing set down for September might have to be expanded to deal with the claims.

Ms Chrysanthou, however, said the claim for aggravated damages was “pretty straightforward”.

“What we say really is that the preparation of the program was a matter that gives rise to aggravation,” she said.

“It contains some pretty disturbing footage of horses being mistreated. That footage is interwoven with an interview my client consented to.

“The ABC and the journalist had that footage, and intended to use that footage, and intended to do so interwoven with the interview with my client and didn’t show it to him.

“It’s the hurt arising from that.”

The segment airing in October 2019 defamed Mr V’landys, his lawyers argued, and brought his reputation into public disrepute, ridicule and contempt as it depicted him as someone who was ignoring horse deaths.

Documents filed with the court state he was “greatly injured” by the program.

The ABC is standing by its report and will defend the proceedings.

In the interview, the racing boss said he had no knowledge of the practice taking place in NSW, but the ABC’s investigation identified 14 horses had been sent to knackeries in the state.

Racing NSW later explained in a statement 12 of those horses had predominantly lived interstate and were beyond its jurisdiction.

The governing body said it prohibited the slaughter of industry horses in knackeries if the animal had predominantly lived in NSW.

The matter will return to court on July 27.