Disgraced Journalist Caroline Overington Who Cost Bauer $4.5M Now Working At News Corp
Caroline Overington who is now an Associate editor at The Australian is today ducking for cover after being slammed as the journalist who cost her old bosses Bauer Media a staggering $4.5M after she wrote a story about actress Rebel Wilson, that was deemed to be false.
News Corporation have not said whether they see Overington as a liability after the Victorian Court basically ruled that Overington failed to check facts before publishing a story in Bauer Media publications.
Defamation law experts say the record-smashing $4.56 million payout to Hollywood actress Rebel Wilson sends a strong message that the court will punish media and journalists such as Overington who fail to fact-check facts prior to writing a story, the judge’s willingness to lift the statutory damages cap should worry publishers say experts.
At the Supreme court in Melbourne on Wednesday, Justice John Dixon said the damages suffered by Wilson warranted a “substantial” payment and awarded the actor $4,567,472. Interest and costs would be determined at a later date.
The award comprised $650,000 in general damages, including aggravated damages, and $3,917,472 in special damages for opportunities of screen roles lost because of the articles.
Rebel Wilson accused Overington of writing a story that viciously tried to take her down with a series of false articles,” Wilson said in a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon.
“The judge accepted without qualification that I had an extremely high reputation and that the damage inflicted on me was substantial. He said the nature of the aggravated defamation and the unprecedented extent of dissemination makes vindication of particular importance. The judge said he knew that the info from anonymous paid source was false … and that Bauer Media traded recklessly on my reputation in order to boost its own profits.”
Wilson said she was “extremely grateful” for the record sum, which she said was four times the previous Australian record, but the case “wasn’t about the money”.
“I’m looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I’ve received,” she said.
Most of the damages awarded by Victorian Supreme Court judge John Dixon on Wednesday related to economic loss after Ms Wilson failed to secure “lead or co-lead roles comparable to her roles in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2” because of Overington’s false and damaging story.
“This verdict demonstrates the court is prepared to heavily punish the media who publish scurrilous articles without fact checking,” said Mills Oakley partner and defamation lawyer Stuart Gibson.
“It lowers the bar for those suing in defamation, especially where they have suffered some sort of financial loss as a result.”
Overington has not commented since the story appeared, last year she returned to the News Corp owned broadsheet where she was a senior reporter between 2006 and 2013.
It’s not known whether Overington left Bauer of her own accord.
Overington has had several jobs during her career, she previously worked for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
During her questionable tenure with Bauer Media she would have been covered by Bauer Media’s defamation insurance coverage.
Her departure from Australian Woman’s Weekly came before the record defamation ruling.
Back in 2013 Overington said “I see my job as being able to consistently come up with cracking stories that people want to read; and to write them, honestly and fairly”.
She went on to say “The hardest thing is doing the story justice. That’s a challenge every day. Is it fair? Is it balanced? Have I spoken to everyone who needs to be spoken to, and have I considered every possibility and every angle?
News Corporation have not said whether they knew that Overington had written a story that has now deemed to be false prior to hiring her.