Lachlan Murdoch Drops Defamation Suit Against Australian Website Crikey newsusface

Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corp. and eldest son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has abandoned a defamation lawsuit against an Australian news publisher, his attorney confirmed.

The move comes just two days after Fox News settled a separate defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for $787 million, well under the $1.6 billion the election technology company had originally sought.

Murdoch, 51, made his first legal threat against the independent news site Crikey in August, two months after it published an opinion article calling his family an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Crikey suit was expected to go to trial in Australia later this year. As defendants, it named parent company Private Media; its chairman Eric Beecher and chief executive Will Hayward; and former Crikey editor-in-chief Peter Fray and political editor Bernard Keane, who wrote the June 29 article.

On Friday morning local time, however, Murdoch’s team filed a notice to discontinue the case in federal court.

In a statement, John Churchill, the executive’s lawyer, said in a statement that Murdoch was confident that he would have prevailed in court, but no longer wanted to let Crikey weaponize the case to “facilitate a marketing campaign” for itself and boost its subscription numbers.

“It is a matter of public record that Crikey admits that there is no truth to the imputations that were made about Mr Murdoch in the article,” Churchill said.

Crikey previously said that it stands behind its article.

Murdoch “is using the law to silence public debate,” Fray told The Daily Beast’s Confider last August. “He is seeking to intimidate us and we are sick and tired of it.”

The Guardian Australia reported on Friday that Private Media had been “blindsided” by the development, and is likely to demand damages from Murdoch.

In court documents filed this month, lawyers for Private Media doubled down on Crikey’s assertions, alleging that Murdoch was “morally and ethically culpable” for the insurrection, according to Australia’s ABC News.

The filings claimed that Fox News “promoted and peddled [Donald] Trump’s lie of the stolen election despite Lachlan Murdoch knowing it was false.”

In his Friday statement, Churchill said that Crikey had tried to “introduce thousands of pages of documents” recently made public in the Dominion suit as evidence in the Australian case. The judge in the Dominion case, Churchill added, had ruled the events of Jan. 6 irrelevant to proceedings.

“Further, the plaintiff Dominion Voting Systems made clear it would not argue that Fox News caused the events of January 6, and at no point did it ever argue that Mr Murdoch was personally responsible for the events of January 6,” the lawyer said.

“Yet this is what Crikey’s article alleged and what Crikey is attempting to argue in Australia.”

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