Former Deputy Premier of NSW John Barilaro is set to receive a $715,000 payout from Google. A Federal Court ruling on Monday morning found the tech company had “encouraged and facilitated” offensive material about him.
Barilaro took the company to court claiming defamation and trauma after it published videos from alleged comedian Jordan Shanks, who goes by Friendlyjordies on the internet.
He mainly took issue with a series of videos that he claimed included “racial slurs” regarding his Italian heritage, and lead an “indefensibly racist and defamatory” campaign against his name.
According to Federal Court documents, Barilaro took issue with being called a “Mafia don”, “Giovanni the greasy little scrotum”, “a con-man to the core, powered by spaghetti” and “a meatball” to name a few.
The court found that videos including one titled Super Barilaro Kart, in which Shanks dressed up like Nintendo’s Mario to mock Barilaro, were “plainly racist in its depiction of Mr Barilaro.”
“This video begins with Mr Shanks impersonating Mr Barilaro, dressed in a Mario outfit and with a fake moustache driving his car,” the court document read.
“Mr Shanks again uses the parodied Italian accent, making statements about looking for ‘bush tucker’ which he then says is ‘ragu ravioli, just like mama used to make. The witchety grubs of Griffith'”.
According to Justice Steven Rares, Shanks ran a “relentless and vicious campaign” against Barilaro, and Google as the publisher of the content “failed” to take action. This apparently caused Barilaro to “leave public office prematurely,” and left him “traumatised”.
“Google was a publisher of all content posted on YouTube. It encouraged and facilitated the publication of the matters complained of and each of Mr Shanks’ other videos and public comments posted on YouTube video pages,” the Federal Court document read.
This court matter is completely separate from the one that concluded in November last year, in which Barilaro sued Shanks directly for defamation.
As a result of that case, Shanks formally apologised and paid court costs of $100,000.
“Mr Shanks accepts that some of the videos he posted were offensive to Mr Barilaro,” Shanks’ barrister Matt Collins QC read out to the court, per the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Mr Shanks understands that Mr Barilaro has been hurt, and apologises to him for that hurt.”
Kristo Langker, the producer for FriendlyJordies, who was arrested and charged with allegedly stalking and intimidating Barilaro in June 2021, was due to face trial this year but had all charges against him dropped in March.