Introducing 'The Defo Awards' for Services to Defamation Fuck-Ups — The Shovel

Introducing ‘The Defo Awards’ for Services to Defamation Fuck-Ups

We’re excited to announce a special award ceremony that recognises the very best fuck ups in defamation litigation. Your winners are …


The Hague Award for Services to Future War Crimes Hearings

Winner: Ben Roberts-Smith

Comment: Over the past two years Ben has worked tirelessly and selflessly to provide evidence, facilitate witness statements, and bring new material to light, which can now be used in support of a War Crimes trial against him. What a stunning performance!


The “Best Fuck Up by a Supporting Actor Trying to Impress His Daddy

Winner: Lachlan Murdoch

Comment: A captivating performance. We see the young Murdoch begin as a tough-guy bully throwing his weight around the schoolyard, only to be told to come home by his Daddy when a $700 million lawsuit from Dominion arrives in New York.


Best Victory Speech During a Defamation Defeat

Winner: Christian Porter

Comment: Most people who have been forced to withdraw a defamation suit against the national broadcaster, after weeks of claiming he had been defamed, would see it as a defeat. But not Porter. In a breath-taking performance, he subverts expectations, claims victory, and labels the ABC’s decision not to pay him damages or remove the articles about him, a ‘humiliating backdown’. Superb.


The ‘My Character Witness Once Wore a KKK Costume’ Award for Services to Satire

Winner: Ben Roberts-Smith

Comment: In another spectacular performance, Roberts-Smith showed that he is not afraid to buck convention. While most litigants would put forward a respectable, upstanding citizen to be their character witness, BRS chose a guy who once went to a military fancy dress party dressed in a white hood. The line “I knew one other person was coming in blackface, so I thought it would be funny [to be in a KKK costume],” is one of the most memorable in all of defamation law.


The “Free Speech Is Sacred Until Someone Teases Me” Award

Winner: Peter Dutton

Runner Up: Lachlan Murdoch

Comment: Dutton spent years perfecting his hard-man, free-speech warrior character – once noting that criticisms were like ‘water off a duck’s back’. But in an impressive display of his range, he was able to quickly pivot to a thin-skinned, hypersensitive litigant, when he was told someone wrote a five-word mean tweet about him.  Utterly convincing.


The Gold Defo For Elite Services to Defamation Fuck-Ups

Winner: Ben Roberts-Smith

Comment: It’s hard to think of a more impressive performance. The mark of a great defamation fuck-up is the ability to continually surprise audiences day after day. And BRS certainly did that. We learned he’d hired a private detective to make sure his girlfriend got an abortion. We heard him describe how he often set his laptops on fire when he is finished with them. We heard that his squadron drank out of a the prosthetic leg of a man he had killed, but also how they got miniature versions of the leg made up as souvenirs. And we heard from SAS soldiers about how Ben Roberts-Smith had murdered innocent civilians. All in a case that Robert-Smith had himself initiated. Truly spectacular.

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