Google will contact YouTube comedian FriendlyJordies as a witness in John Barilaro’s defamation case

Google will contact YouTuber FriendlyJordies as a witness in a defamation case brought by John Barillaro, in a move the former New South Wales deputy prime minister’s lawyer said would “undoubtedly exacerbate the damage”.

Mr Barillaro is suing the Federal Court over the publication of a series of videos last year.

He suspended the case against Jordan Shanks, aka FriendlyJordies, after the satirist lawyer read an apology in court earlier this month, accepting that some of the videos were offensive to the politician.

Portions of the graphics that sparked the defamation allegations have been removed, but the case against Google is still ongoing.

Attorney Lyndell Barnett, on behalf of Google, told Judge Stephen Raris that the tech giant would contact Mr. Shanks, but would not provide all of the evidence it had planned in advance.

The confirmation came as Barillaro’s attorney, Sue Chrysanzo SC, lobbied Google about Shanks’ potential appearance after it “reserved the right” to contact him.

She said it would be “some work” to question the satirist if contacted and suggested that the tech giant would “undoubtedly exacerbate the harm to my client by doing so”.

man with beard talking
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Barillaro resigned from politics in early October.(AAP: Jenny Evans)

Ms Chrysanthou also accused Google of creating an unnecessary “busy business” by seeking special orders, beyond the usual undertakings made by litigants, to protect the confidentiality of parts of the documents Google was required to provide.

Ms Chrysantho told the court that the goal was “apparently to protect people’s email addresses”.

“These are not state secrets,” she said.

“The idea that anyone is allowed to either redact documents or block access to something of the nature that my friend describes is, to her, absurd.”

Ms Barnett insisted that Google was not arguing that the documents should not be made available, but merely to “engage” with their opposition and seek recognition of the “sensitivities” in some of the material.

Woman holding a file walking outside the courtroom
Sue Chrysanzo is represented by former Deputy Prime Minister John Barillaro.(AAP: James Gurley)

Judge Raris questioned what might justify the secrecy order, calling the request “ridiculous” and “childish.”

“These are just unnecessary storms in teacups,” the judge said.

Google also suggested that Mr. Barillaro gave “tacit consent” to the publication of the modified videos.

But the judge said that reaching a deal to remove parts of the video that led to the assumptions did not mean Barillaro agreed to release the rest of the videos.

Ms Chrysantho described the consent argument as a “wrong case”.

“We’re not happy that Google continues to post videos with racist remarks, like ‘greaseball Ned Kelly’, but again that’s just a painful question,” she said.

The 10-day trial is scheduled for March.


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