- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Jordan Shanks, the face of friendlyjordies, appears set to testify for Google as it defends defamation action from NSW MP John Barilaro.
Mr Barilaro has maintained his claim against YouTube's owner over videos titled "bruz" and "Secret Dictatorship" published on the friendlyjordies channel in late 2020.
That's despite the former NSW deputy premier and retiring MP settling with Shanks three weeks ago.
"The present intention is that Google will be calling Mr Shanks," barrister Lyndelle Barnett, for the tech giant, told the Federal Court on Friday.
That answer cleared up confusion for Mr Barilaro's lawyer, who questioned what to make of Google saying it "reserves the right" to call Mr Shanks at trial in March.
Barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said cross-examining Mr Shanks would involve some work.
"I don't have any problem doing that, but if this is just some sort of empty threat, it shouldn't be allowed," she said.
"We don't mind if they want to call Mr Shanks - and no doubt aggravate the damage to my client in doing so - but if that's their choice, they should in fact make it."
Mr Barilaro launched the defamation case in May, alleging the bruz video wrongly insinuated he was a "corrupt conman" and had "so conducted himself in committing perjury nine times that he should be gaoled".
He alleges Google didn't act on his December 2020 demand for the videos to be removed and their publication was actuated by malice as it was for financial gain and contravened their own YouTube policies.
Google has pleaded a number of defences, including one stating it was publishing a commentator's honest opinion.
Ms Chrysanthou used Friday's hearing to also complain of Google's insistence that Mr Barilaro sign a confidentiality agreement before he could see documents the tech giant was compelled to produce.
The documents relate to Google's internal correspondence about Mr Barilaro's video. It includes some user information, the court was told.
Google wasn't suggesting the MP would break the normal secrecy regime that applies to litigants but it wanted a recognition that some information had a "particular sensitivity", Ms Barnett said.
Justice Steven Rares didn't buy that, underlining that Mr Barilaro could be jailed if he breached the standard, implied undertaking.
"This is not a trade competitors case where you are looking for trade secrets, this is ridiculous," the judge said.
"Your client needs to produce the documents in total today. This is just ridiculous. I mean, seriously?"
The defamation trial is set down for two weeks, beginning March 21.
Shanks had planned to defend the claim against him but, on November 5, accepted some videos were offensive to the retiring MP and apologised in a negotiated settlement that involved no damages.
The two videos subject of the claim had since been edited to remove allegations of perjury and corruption, Ms Chrysanthou said on Friday.
Since the case was filed six months ago, Shanks's eight-year-old channel friendlyjordies has gained more than 110,000 new subscribers to sit at 600,000.
Total views grew almost 20 per cent to 155 million views.
Google denies the two original videos carried the eight defamatory meanings as stated by Mr Barilaro. If they were defamatory, the tech giant pleads qualified privilege as a statement of a commentator's honest opinion.
It also relies on the video being a matter concerning an issue of public interest - a defence available to publishers as of July 1 this year.