Updated Apr 20, 2023 - World

Lachlan Murdoch drops defamation suit against Aussie website Crikey

News Corp co-chair Lachlan Murdoch. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch has dropped his defamation lawsuit against Australian news website Crikey, his lawyer confirmed in a statement Thursday.

Why it matters: Murdoch, who's also co-chair of News Corp and the elder son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, dropped the lawsuit days after Fox News settled a historic defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for a record $787 million.

  • Lawyers for Crikey had indicated they would use evidence that related to the Dominion suit in their case, which was due to go to trial this year.

Driving the news: Murdoch sued Crikey for defamation last August in response to an article on the Jan. 6 attack of the U.S. Capitol that it published with the headline: "Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator."

  • Murdoch's lawyer John Churchill confirmed in a statement on Friday that he had filed a notice of discontinuance in the defamation proceedings against Private Media, publisher of Crikey.
  • "Mr. Murdoch remains confident that the court would ultimately find in his favor, however he does not wish to further enable Crikey’s use of the court to litigate a case from another jurisdiction that has already been settled and facilitate a marketing campaign designed to attract subscribers and boost their profits," Churchill said.

What they're saying: "The fact is, Murdoch sued us, and then dropped his case," Private Media said in a statement. "We are proud to have exposed the hypocrisy and abuse of power of a media billionaire. This is a victory for free speech. We won."

  • Marque Lawyers, which defended the case, tweeted: "Lachlan Murdoch has discontinued his defamation case against Crikey. He’ll be up for Crikey's legal costs. We and our client are well pleased."

Of note: Crikey set up a fund-raising campaign to defend the case, which had raised AU$588,735 (about $396,000) as of Thursday. The publisher did not immediately say what will happen with the money raised.

  • Representatives for Crikey did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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