Sophie Mirabella wins defamation claim against newspaper

Former federal Liberal politician Sophie Mirabella has been awarded $175,000 in damages after she was defamed by a regional Victorian newspaper.

Ms Mirabella successfully sued the weekly newspaper The Benalla Ensign and its editor Libby Price this year over an article that claimed the former MP had pushed another politician out of the way during a photo opportunity.

County Court Judge Michael Macnamara delivered the damages judgment in Melbourne on Wednesday, awarding Ms Mirabella $175,000 in damages over the April 2016 article.

Ms Mirabella successfully sued the weekly newspaper The Benalla Ensign. Photo: AAP

The maximum amount that may be awarded for non-economic loss linked to Victorian defamation is $389,500.

Earlier this month, a six-person jury found in favour of Ms Mirabella, after a trial at Wangaratta.

Ms Mirabella told the five-day trial the April 2016 article had a devastating personal impact.

It was published before a federal election when she had hoped to win back the seat of Indi from incumbent Cathy McGowan.

The article, titled Awkward Encounter, claimed Ms Mirabella had pushed Ms McGowan out of the way during a photo opportunity.

Months later, the newspaper admitted the push did not occur and apologised, but by then the election had passed and Ms Mirabella said the damage to her character had been done.

Ms Mirabella’s barrister, Georgina Schoff QC, had argued that significant damages were appropriate due to the hurt caused by the article.

Costs will be determined next Thursday.