Parts of Nine's defence to a defamation case over reports about a custody battle over an Instagram-famous cavoodle has been tossed for being embarrassing, evasive and ambiguous.
In a decision handed down on Tuesday, Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney upheld attacks on the defence by barrister Gina Edwards who is suing the publication for defamation.
The scrapped sections of the defence claimed Ms Edwards had exploited Oscar the cavoodle for financial benefit and had intentionally delayed court proceedings around the canine custody battle with Sydney man Mark Gillespie.
Nine's barrister Dauid Sibtain argued Ms Edwards had exploited Oscar by spending thousands of dollars on the Instagram account. However, the judge questioned how this showed the barrister had exploited the dog.
"I think every owner of a dog spends more money than they would like to spend on the dog ... What's that got to do with her exploiting him and obtaining financial benefit?" the judge asked.
Mr Sibtain said Ms Edwards wanted to engage Oscar in public appearances to seek future financial gain through his social media following.
"We say it is true that she exploited the dog, she used the dog, and she considered this account as valuable," he told the judge.
The case has been brought against Nine and journalist Stephen Marshall over two reports by A Current Affair aired in May and June last year. Ms Edwards claims the reports contained allegedly defamatory statements that she stole and exploited Oscar for her personal benefit.
Ms Edwards' barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said there was an overwhelming case Nine had taken the side of Mr Gillespie in the broadcasts and had portrayed her client as a thief.
In the report, Mr Gillespie is referred to as "Daddy Mark" while Ms Edwards is referred to as "Aunty Gina" or the "dog-sitter".
"An aunty is not a parent and a daddy is, just to put that out there," Ms Chrysanthou said.
The reports also claimed Ms Edwards was living the high life by "rolling in endorsements from pet companies," the court was told.
The custody battle made its way through the NSW Supreme and District Courts with Ms Edwards eventually taking out an apprehended violence order against Mr Gillespie.
In her defamation case, Ms Edwards is seeking damages for hurt to her feelings and reputation, and court orders removing the broadcasts from Nine's webpages.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.