Gina Rinehart’s stoush with Channel Nine over the 'House of Hancock' miniseries has taken a new turn, with her legal team claiming the producers breached an as-yet imaginary law.
Despite reaching a confidential settlement last year, in which Nine agreed to make last minute edits to the second episode of the “fictionalised” drama, Rinehart has sought an injunction against the DVD advertising campaign on grounds that it presented injurious falsehoods and breached a “tort of privacy”.
The case will be a test for the non-existent legal principle, having the potential to write new case law into the Australian judicial system.
Rinehart’s civil claim against Nine and producer Cordell Jigsaw stated: “The plaintiff had and has the right to not have those of her private affairs, with which the public has not legitimate concern, publicised to other nor her likeness exhibited to the public … to live her life without being subject to unwarranted and undesired publicity, including publicity unreasonably placing her in a false light before the public”.
The claim of injurious falsehood extends upon the principle of defamation, requiring evidence of malice and tangible damage to a business or reputation.
The plaintiff alleged falsehoods portrayed by the miniseries included representations that “Lang Hancock was a person with a propensity to cheat at tennis” who had “used profanities in the presence of his daughter,” and of her mother “Hope Hancock as a person of blonde hair”.
It is also claimed that Lang Hancock never “communicated to the plaintiff that she was a ‘slothful, vindictive, devious baby elephant” and that House of Hancock “falsely portray(ed) Lang Hancock as having liked the residence known as Prix D’Amore”.
The DVD product went on sale in December 2015.
Cordell Jigsaw barrister Sandy Dawson said Rinehart even wanted to litigate over the depiction of her physical weight.
Mumbrella said it was likely Rinehart will give evidence in court if the case proceeds, while Nine weighs options to have the case struck out before the matter returns to the NSW Supreme Court in April.
Last year Hancock Prospecting executive director Tad Watroba joined Rinehart’s criticism of the Nine Network, indicating his own personal experience with Hancock gave him authority on the matter.
“I worked for Lang Hancock and have been with Mrs Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting since 1991 so I have a good grasp on what actually took place,” he said in February 2015.
“I know the facts, and this show has turned out to be a tacky grab for ratings, damaging the memory of good Australians along the way.
“Since starting promotion of the show, Channel 9 has not bothered to fact-check anything despite repeated offers when people have pointed out mistakes."