Solomon Lew tries to suppress media in family legal stoush
Media reports of his family legal stoush are "vindictive" and "motivated by some personal animus" ... Solomon Lew. Photo: Bloomberg
THE billionaire Solomon Lew has lashed media reports of a multimillion-dollar family legal stoush, telling a court they are ''vindictive'', and ''motivated by some personal animus''.
Mr Lew made the allegations through his counsel, Jack Fajgenbaum, QC, during a Supreme Court hearing yesterday at which the retail magnate was seeking suppression of further coverage of the legal fight.
Mr Fajgenbaum, the third silk to go into battle for Mr Lew in the course of the case, said his client wanted reports made anonymous in the same way as those of related Family Court proceedings to protect Mr Lew's grandchildren from ''hurtful gossip'' at school.
Georgina Schoff, SC, for Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald, the ABC and Nationwide News, publisher of The Australian, said Mr Lew gave up the anonymity of the Family Court when he launched Supreme Court proceedings.
She said there was no proper evidence linking the alleged teasing to reports singled out by Mr Fajgenbaum, which she said were a ''fair summary'' of the proceedings. ''We say that the facts have not been inaccurately reported at all,'' she said.
Justice Jennifer Davies reserved her decision. She denied an application to have reports of yesterday's hearing suppressed until then, saying extensive reporting of the proceeding on the internet and on ABC Radio at lunchtime rendered such an order futile.
Mr Fajgenbaum attacked coverage of the case, , complaining it had focused on $621 million originally in the Lew family fund, rather than two loan accounts within it, each of $25 million, in dispute. The loan accounts are held in the names of Mr Lew's children Jacqueline and Steven and are the subject of related Family Court proceedings pitting them against their former spouses, Adam Priester and Sarah Nowoweiski, of Toorak.
''If the press are paying attention to this case they are deliberately misreporting what is occurring, motivated by some personal animus, perhaps, we would suggest, an irrational animus, against Mr Lew who has always been portrayed in these articles as some sort of greedy ogre,'' Mr Fajgenbaum said.
''If the case was being accurately reported, we would probably have no basis for the making of a claim but, with respect, it's what we regard as the vindictive reporting, the mischaracterisation of what this case is about, that founds this application. It's the misreporting, for example, that the greedy grandfather is taking all the family wealth away from the rest of the family other than from him and his wife, Rose.''