Weekly News Roundup

November 16, 2018

Image: ABC News

Rebel Wilson’s legal battle ends as High Court rejects appeal over defamation payout

Hollywood actress Rebel Wilson has failed in her bid for her appeal case to be heard in the High Court of Australia, bringing her legal battle “to a definitive end”.

Key Points:

  • Wilson was initially awarded more than $4.7 million for several defaming articles published by Bauer Media in 2015
  • In June, the Court of Appeal forced her to pay back most of that, with today’s ruling upholding that decision
  • Wilson says her appeal was never about the money, but “standing up to a bully”

The High Court’s decision to dismiss the case came after Wilson was ordered to pay back millions of dollars to a magazine publisher that was found to have defamed her in a series of tabloid stories in 2015.

Wilson sat in the front row of the public gallery during Friday’s hearing.

Last year, Wilson was awarded more than $4.7 million in compensation — the largest defamation damages payout ever ordered by an Australian court — after a jury found she missed out on film roles because the articles claimed she had lied about her age, real name and childhood.

In awarding the damages, Justice John Dixon said the defamation extent was “unprecedented in this country” because of the articles’ global reach.


Australia’s pollution mapped by postcode reveals nation’s ‘dirty truth’

On the fringes of Australia’s biggest cities, people work, live, and play next to some of the nation’s biggest polluters.

Key points:

  • National Pollution Inventory data has been mapped according to postcodes
  • The Australian Conservation Foundation report reveals the country’s most-polluted postcodes
  • Botany Bay in Sydney and Altona in Melbourne are the cities’ most-polluted areas

For the first time, Australia’s pollution has been mapped by postcode in a report titled The Dirty Truth by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

Some of the areas identified as being the most polluted in Australia’s capital cities include:

  • Botany Bay in Sydney
  • Altona in Melbourne
  • Port of Brisbane
  • Parmelia near Perth

The ACF found the lower the postcode’s weekly household income, the more likely it was to be home to polluting facilities such as factories and refineries.

“If you’re in that bottom 60 per cent, you’re much more likely to live around a polluting facility,” ACF economist Matt Rose said.

And if you want to avoid living among pollutants?

“The best way is to have money essentially. And you can buy a house … in suburbs where there aren’t any polluting facilities,” Mr Rose said.

“They’re in the top 20 per cent of income postcodes in Australia.”

He said only 0.1 per cent of polluting facilities were found in those wealthier postcodes.


A feel-good tale of a homeless man using his last $20 to help a stranded New Jersey woman buy gas was actually a complete lie, manufactured to get strangers to donate more than $US400,000 ($550,000) to help the down-and-out good Samaritan, a prosecutor has said.

Key points:

  • Prosecutors have texts showing the accused calling the story “completely made up”
  • The three spent the GoFundMe money lavishly, and there are “zero” dollars left
  • GoFundMe says money donated to the trio will be refunded to donors

Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina announced criminal charges against the couple who told the story to newspapers and television stations along with the homeless man who conspired with them to tell the story.

Mr Coffina said the money, donated to homeless Marine veteran Johnny Bobbitt, would be refunded to people who saw the story and contributed to him through a GoFundMe page set up by the couple, Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure.

“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Mr Coffina said. “It was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences.”

Mr Coffina said almost no part of the tale was true.

Ms McClure didn’t run out of gas, he said. Mr Bobbitt didn’t spot her in trouble and give her money.

Instead, the group met near a Philadelphia casino in October 2017 shortly before the three told their story.

Less than an hour after the couple set up the page to solicit donations, Ms McClure sent a text message to a friend acknowledging the story was “completely made up,” prosecutors said.

“I had to make something up to make people feel bad,” Ms McClure said in a text — one of 60,000 reviewed by prosecutors — to a friend.

GoFundMe said in a statement that people who donated money would get a full refund in the coming days.

The group spent lavishly, Mr Coffina said, and there were “zero” dollars left.

The couple bought a BMW, took a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas and bought high-end handbags, among other items.

More than $US85,000 in cash was withdrawn at, or near, casinos in Atlantic City, Bensalem, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Las Vegas.

The fraud didn’t stop with the GoFundMe page.

The trio did interview after interview, posed for photos together, revisited the spot where they claimed their first encounter happened and went on “Good Morning America.”

Mr Bobbitt, 35, was arrested Wednesday night by US marshals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and remained in custody on Thursday on probation detainers and a $US50,000 bond.

Mr D’Amico, 39, and Ms McClure, 28, surrendered to authorities on Wednesday night and were released.

Their attorney said they had no comment.

This news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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