Ray Hadley to pay $280,000 for defaming woman
Shock jock Ray Hadley has been ordered to pay $280,000 in damages to a north-west Sydney fish and chip shop owner whom he described as "vile" and a "grub" during a defamatory on-air tirade.PT1M9S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zmn7 620 349 December 19, 2013
Radio commentator Ray Hadley has never been one to mince words.
So it was perhaps appropriate that the NSW Supreme Court judge who slapped the broadcaster and his employer - radio station 2GB - with a $280,000 damages order on Thursday didn't either.
In a scathing judgment, Acting Justice Henric Nicholas described Mr Hadley's attack on Carlingford fish and chip shop owner, Kim Ahmed, as an ''unbridled tirade … spat into the microphone for the consumption of the audience''.
Defamation case: Ray Hadley has been ordered to pay $280,000 in damages. Photo: Ben Rushton
''An award of the court which operates to vindicate her reputation should enable the plaintiff to lay this broadcast to rest in the gutter from which it came,'' his honour said.
Ms Ahmed incurred the commentator's ire for her decision to continue supporting her husband after he was convicted of indecently assaulting one of the young female staff who worked at their shop in January 2007.
On May 21, 2008, Mr Hadley twice delivered on-air attacks against Ms Ahmed, describing her as a ''grub'', and calling on listeners to put the couple's shop out of business.
Payout: Kim Ahmed. Photo: Supplied
A cause of particular outrage, it appeared, was Ms Ahmed's decision to take out an AVO against the father of the teenage assault victim for allegedly stalking and intimidating her, with Mr Hadley conducting a mocking rendition of a court registrar.
Acting Justice Nicholas found that Mr Hadley's attack ''reached its crescendo'' with the words: '' … but if this bloke has any connection with it and his grub of a wife, they should completely and utterly be sent out of business''.
Ms Ahmed was forced to close the business in 2008 and now works as a community mental health worker.
''These poisoned arrows found their mark, and left the plaintiff sorely wounded,'' Acting Justice Nicholas said.
Ms Ahmed came under attack again in October 2009 when she sued Mr Hadley for defamation in the Federal Court.
''I'll tell you who's been defamed in all this, the little girl involved with your grub of a husband and her family,'' Mr Hadley said.
''You've got your just deserts. And we'll be making sure we apply for those costs … If we send you and your husband broke, I'll be absolutely delighted.''
Ms Ahmed told the defamation hearing in November: ''I was upset. I was so hurt. I was horrified. I was angry. I just thought to myself, he's after me. When is he going to stop?''
But Mr Hadley's legal team countered that he had been expressing ''honestly held opinions'' in his role as a commentator.
They argued that Ms Ahmed's AVO had been, as Mr Hadley described it, ''frivolous'' and ''vexatious'' accusing her of lying during her evidence.
But the four-member jury panel rejected this, finding that she had been presented as a ''low, contemptible person'' who condoned her husband's criminal behaviour and should thus be put out of business.
''Hopefully it sends a clear message to not only [Ray Hadley] but other presenters: you need to tell the truth,'' Ms Ahmed said outside court on Thursday.
Mr Hadley may lodge an appeal.
It is understood any damages will be paid by the Macquarie Radio Network's insurer.