Australia: Tony Bellino loses defamation battle with Queensland Newspapers - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaTony Bellino loses defamation battle with Queensland Newspapers

04:15  01 september  2019
04:15  01 september  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Defamation in Queensland is the publication of unsubstantiated information that impacts negatively on an Enquiry Into Wage Theft Underway ( Qld ). Losing Testamentary Capacity and Dying Intestate in Defamation in Queensland is a type of civil law action known as a tort. The British legal system

Tony Bellino loses defamation battle with Queensland Newspapers© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Queensland Newspapers lawyers said Tony Bellino has "traded" on his "bad reputation". (ABC News) A judge has dismissed a notorious former Queensland nightclub owner's defamation battle against a newspaper, saying the man "took some pride" in his "bad" reputation.

Tony Bellino launched action in the Federal Court in 2017 against The Courier-Mail's publisher, Queensland Newspapers, after he was described as a "prominent casino and brothel owner" who fled to Italy in 1987 "at the height of the crisis".

He claimed the January 2017 two-page spread — published to mark the anniversary of the investigative journalism that led to the landmark Fitzgerald Inquiry — defamed him by painting him as a "criminal".

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"I am an honest man — I would not lower myself to go live off gambling or prostitution … and … I never, ever, would have done anything to destroy my father's name," Mr Bellino told the Federal Court earlier this year.

Mr Bellino, who opened iconic hotspot The Roxy nightclub in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley in the 1980s, was named in the Fitzgerald Inquiry's terms of reference but was never charged and denied any wrongdoing.

Traded on his 'seedy' reputation

But on Friday, Mr Bellino dramatically lost his defamation case after Justice Geoffrey Flick found Queensland Newspapers had established a defence of "substantial" truth to three of his claims.

He also accepted Mr Bellino had traded on his "seedy" reputation by releasing an album called Tony Bellino: Shame & Scandal in the Family and a self-published book, Time for Truth: Antonio tells it as it is.

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Some readers reportedly thought that the paper was permitting the Klan to enclose its fliers, that the newspaper supported the Knights Party, or that it In response to the law suit, the Knights Party sued the newspaper for defamation . That case was dismissed because the Rhino Times does not have a

The long-running legal battle revisited the events surrounding the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which was established in 1987 following stories by ABC's Four Corners program and The Courier-Mail.

In his judgment, Justice Flick said Mr Bellino's financial interests went beyond running nightclubs and "extended into prostitution".

He also said Mr Bellino's denials of knowledge sat "very uncomfortably" with the version given in his book.

During his stint in the witness box, Mr Bellino accepted that illegal gambling took place in a room upstairs from the Taormina Spaghetti Bar in the 1970s, but tried to blame it on his brother Geraldo, who was jailed for official corruption and had not given evidence in the defamation case.

But Justice Flick said Mr Bellino loaned a man $10,000 from a safe in the floor so that he could continue gambling, and later flew to Darwin to recoup that money.

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The judge also accepted the evidence of former Queensland police officer Nigel Powell that when he was invited to an illegal game upstairs from The Roxy nightclub in 1987, Santo Rizzo told him that "[t]his is Tony's game".

"It can be comfortably concluded that Antonio Bellino had knowledge of the illegal gaming being carried out on at the premises in which he was the lessee, or at least a person who had a not insignificant interest, … and also was a person who received money from that illegal gaming," Justice Flick said.

Justice Flick found Queensland Newspapers made out its defence by proving each of the three claims as "substantially true".

He said the case established Mr Bellino had a reputation as being involved in brothels, illegal gambling and "criminal activities" in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley and that he "took some pride" in that reputation, including by releasing the record album.

"The applicant [Mr Bellino] on that dust cover was obviously content to portray himself as 'mafia don' attracting the scorn of ostensible members of the legal profession," Justice Flick said.

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An Orange County judge awarded Beador nearly 8,000 for legal bills after Jim Bellino unsuccessfully sued her for defamation . They denied defaming him and asked the Orange County judge to order Jim Bellini to reimburse their legal fees.

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"Notwithstanding the denial of Mr Bellino in his cross-examination that he was 'trading on his seedy reputation,' it is concluded that that was precisely what he was doing."

Justice Flick said Mr Bellino also admitted in his self-published biography that his image was linked to the Mafia.

Bellino's testimony had 'potential to incriminate him'

During the case, lawyers for Queensland Newspapers argued Mr Bellino suffered no reputational damage from the article because he admitted his reputation was already irreparably destroyed by the inquiry and media coverage in the 1980s.

Justice Flick's judgment also made mention of the fact Mr Bellino's testimony "had the potential to incriminate him in the criminal activities that formed the focus of prosecutions brought against others".

He said, even though Mr Bellino testified "willingly", he was unrepresented at the hearing — making it necessary to issue him with a certificate that meant the evidence could not be used against him in other proceedings.

Justice Flick made the same order for another witness Santo Rizzo.

He dismissed the proceedings and ordered that Mr Bellino pay Queensland Newspapers' costs.

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