Erin Molan’s defamation case against Daily Mail Australia to centre on whether she is ‘racist or not’ as court told of her mocking a Fijian footballer’s name by singing to the tune of In the Mighty Jungle
- Erin Molan was accused of mocking Pacific Islander names on live radio
- Molan is suing Daily Mail Australia over its coverage of these and other remarks
- Claims she was portrayed as a racist and an ‘arrogant woman of white privilege’
- Defence argues the case comes down to key issue: ‘Is Molan racist?’
- Molan’s lawyer told court his client ‘doesn’t have a racist bone in her body’
- Claims ‘firestorm’ generated by articles was designed to damage her reputation
The mocking of a Fijian footballer’s name by singing In the Mighty Jungle has been put forward in court as an example that radio and TV presenter Erin Molan ‘engaged in racist behaviour’.
In the first hearing of the defamation case between Ms Molan and Daily Mail Australia on Friday, the Federal Court was told the publication had found 24 instances of Ms Molan engaging in racist behaviour including the mocking of ethnic names and putting on fake accents on radio.
This included singing to the tune of the well-known ‘lion sleeps tonight song’ In the Mighty Jungle when discussing the name of a Fijian footballer.
The sports presenter is suing Daily Mail Australia for defamation claiming she was portrayed as racist, callous and arrogant in an article and tweets about her saying “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” on air in June.
Daily Mail in its defence says the imputations except one are substantially true, and that her conduct on air was ‘objectively racist’.
Molan is suing Daily Mail Australia over a series of articles on June 4 to 5 that accused her of mocking Islander names by uttering ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka’ on radio
Ms Molan’s barrister Sandy Dawson SC accused the media outlet of running an ongoing campaign against Molan, a Nine Network presenter and co-host of the 2GB rugby league show, The Continuous Call Team.
Mr Dawson said Daily Mail had ‘generated a firestorm’ of publicity against his client and there had been ‘no suggestion of racism’ against her until the publication had ‘generated that hype’.
‘There is an ongoing campaign by the Daily Mail to damage Ms Molan’s reputation, to do so entirely illegitimately,’ he told the court.
Mr Dawson also said the organisation, by publishing online its defence to the claim, was spreading the two main falsities outlined in her statement of claim – that she had described the hooka phrase as an “in-joke” and had refused to apologise.
‘What they did was, they set her up,’ he said.
But Daily Mail Australia lawyer Paul Svilans said the heart of the case was whether Ms Molan was racist or not?
‘That’s the key issue in the case,’ he said.
‘Is she racist because of that behaviour or not?’
Erin Molan (pictured left) alleged to mock the names of Pacific Islander NRL players live on 2GB radio’s The Continuous Call
Mr Svilans said the defence was pleading “truth’ to all the defamatory meanings except one alleged by Molan.
‘We have put on a defence with 24 instances of when the applicant has engaged in racist behaviour,” he said.
Daily Mail Australia was relying on things like Molan putting on Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian accents and mocking Pacific Islander names and singing In the Mighty Jungle, Mr Svilans said.
Mr Dawson said Ms Molan did not have a ‘racist bone in her body’, and flagged he may apply to strike out parts of the defence.
‘We want the issues at trial to be the real issues and not some distraction, he said.
The In the Mighty Jungle reference relates to Ms Molan and other presenters on The Continuous Call Team singing parts of the well known lion sleeps tonight song on August 19, 2017 when discussing the Fijian player by the name of Nakubuwa.
The example is documented in Daily Mail Australia’s 61-page defence filed on Monday.
Justice Robert Bromwich on Friday was told the parties have agreed to take part in mediation but if that failed the hearing of the case could take up to seven days.
He listed the case for hearing from August 30, 2021, the earliest date the judge had available for that block of time, and for another case management hearing on February 19.
Erin Molan and The Continuous Call Team sing In the Mighty Jungle when discussing Fijian footballer’s surname
August 19, 2018
Ray Hadley: It’s his son.
Darryl Brohman : Yeah, but there’s not many… how many Nakubuwai’s do you know?
Ray Hadley: In Fiji they’re like Smiths. [Applicant and others laugh]
Ray Hadley: That’s what he just said! You’re not listening! He doesn’t listen.
Darryl Brohman: No, I know that’s what he said. That’s why I said there’s a fair chance he’d be his son because I’ve never met a Nakubuwai before.
Ray Hadley: But that’s what he said. That’s what Ray said.
Darryl Brohman: I know, that’s why I agreed with him. There’d be a fair chance that he was Pio’s son.
How many Nakubuwai’s do you know?
Erin Molan: So Ray, you gave Middo credit…
Ray Hadley: I’m going…
Darryl Brohman: Have you ever met a Nakubuwai?
Erin Molan: A-wimba-we… [singing the lion sleeps tonight song]
Bob Fulton: In the jungle… [singing the lion sleeps tonight song]
Erin Molan: The mighty jungle…. [singing the lion sleeps tonight song] [Erin Molan and others laugh]
Ray Hadley: You know what Bozo, you wouldn’t believe it. When I started saying it, I started thinking about that song. [Erin Molan and others laugh]
Bob Fulton: Did ya…
Erin Molan: Yeah! [Erin Molan and others laugh]
Ray Hadley + Erin Molan: Nakubuwai Nakubuwai Nakubuwai [chanting]
Erin Molan: A-weeeeeeee [singing] [Erin Molan laughs]