Nine apologises for defaming Andrew Laming

·2-min read

Nine has made a public apology for defaming former politician Andrew Laming by falsely claiming he took a lewd upskirt photograph.

Dr Laming sued over the allegations in a 9News report on March 27, 2021 that he photographed landscaper Crystal White's buttocks.

The broadcaster's apology was read by Dr Laming's barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC during a brief Federal Court hearing in Sydney on Wednesday.

"9News has now seen material which indicated that the photograph Dr Laming took was not lewd in nature," the publisher said.

"9News unreservedly withdraws those allegations about Dr Laming and apologises to him and his family for the hurt and harm caused by the report."

The Walkley Award-winning report, by journalists Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell, is no longer available on Nine's websites.

While Nine initially defended the defamation suit, it dropped all its defences to the case in late August and agreed to enter mediation. The matter was due for a four-week hearing commencing on October 10.

The then Queensland Liberal MP announced he would step down from politics in March 2021 soon after reports by Nine and other media publications.

Outside the Federal Court, Dr Laming acknowledged the public apology.

"It is highly commendable that (Nine) like many senior political and media figures previously, have agreed to right wrongs and apologise when presented with the facts," he said.

"Australians can remain proud of our free press that requires the media to report matters of public interest in a fair and balanced way and when mistakes are made, as they were in my case, correct the record and apologise."

He said the "stream of bizarre allegations" came from political critics and had inflicted hurt and humiliation on his family, including his wife Olesja, and his friends and work colleagues.

"(The allegations) were deeply hurtful and personal. They can never be erased. They can only be painted over, over the course of time, and I can only hope that people view reasonably what's happened today."

He said he was now looking forward to getting a clean and clear start, saying that Indigenous employment and Queensland's major projects would always remain close to his heart.

"Clearly also there's a state political challenge ahead - something I'll be keeping an eye on as well."

The exact dollar amount paid to Dr Laming is not known as the settlement remains confidential. Justice Robert Bromwich did not order that Nine pay the former federal MP's legal costs of the dispute however.