A senior NRL reporter who threatened to “rip off” an 18-year-old colleague's head has lost defamation proceedings against five news outlets that published his tirade.
Massoud sued Sydney radio station 2GB, Nine Digital, Fox Sports Australia, The Daily Telegraph, and radio station KIIS FM for defamation in the NSW District Court over their reporting of the workplace dispute that resulted in his dismissal from the Seven Network
The outlets had published the allegation he had threatened to “slit” the throat of his colleague Jack Warren – the son of the network's Brisbane news director Neil Warren – which Massoud argued was worse than what he actually said.
The imputations he threatened to slit the throat of a young colleague, was a bully and the type of person who threatens and intimidates colleagues were untrue and defamatory, Massoud contended.
But in a judgment handed down on Thursday, Judge Judith Gibson found the all of the imputations were true – upholding the publishers' defences of justification and contextual truth.
She said Massoud had demonstrated a pattern of abusive and bullying behaviour.
“There is abundant evidence of bullying,” she said.
“He would shout, use abuse and bad language and, if he did not get what he wanted, he would threaten to complain, or complain, as a form of intimidation.
“What the plaintiff said to Mr Warren about s****ing down his neck was particularly repugnant.”
She ruled that the plaintiff had failed on all his claims, and ordered him to pay the damages of the defendants, to be calculated at a later date.
“The hurt to the plaintiff's feelings came, I find, from the humiliation of the correctly-reported termination of his employment for his conduct, and not from the misreporting of what he had said to Mr Warren.”