Peter V’landys loses defamation case against ABC story exposing racehorse cruelty

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Racing NSW and Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys has lost the defamation case he brought against the ABC over an episode of 7.30 featuring graphic footage of horses being slaughtered at an abattoir in Queensland.

Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney said the program may not have portrayed Mr V’landys in a positive light but did not defame him in a judgment handed down on Friday afternoon.

The program, aired on October 17, 2019, was titled The Final Race and featured shocking footage of distressed horses being slaughtered at the Meramist Abbatoir, north of Brisbane.

A recorded interview with Mr V’landys was juxtaposed with the graphic footage throughout. The Racing boss alleged the program defamed him and damaged his reputation as a regulator.

Peter V’landys sued the ABC for defamation over an episode of 7.30 about cruel treatment of retired racehorses. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled.

He claimed he was denied procedural fairness because he was not shown hidden camera footage recorded in a Meramist abattoir before or during his interview.

The judge said the overall impression of the report was that the slaughter of thoroughbreds in knackeries was occurring because rules put in place by the industry were “inadequate and ineffective”.

The imputations alleged to have been conveyed included that Mr V’landys “callously permitted the wholesale slaughter of thoroughbred horses” and “ignored the cruelty to which thoroughbred horses were subjected to in a Queensland abattoir”.

The 7.30 story showed vision of former racehorses being sent to abattoirs. Photo: ABC News

Mr V’landys also argued the ABC and Ms Meldrum-Hanna acted with malice in publishing the story, but Justice Wigney said the evidence did not support any allegation of dishonesty or deceit on behalf of the ABC or Meldrum-Hanna.

In a statement, an ABC spokesperson welcomed the decision.

“‘The Final Race’ was an important and ground-breaking investigation, forensically and conscientiously reported, which exposed the cruel treatment and miserable fates of many of Australia’s retired racehorses in slaughterhouses and abattoirs,” the spokesperson said.

Sourced By: ABC News

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