Sophie Mirabella awarded $175,000 in damages

CONFIDENT: Sophie Mirabella walks to court this morning in Melbourne. Picture: SIMON SCHULTER
CONFIDENT: Sophie Mirabella walks to court this morning in Melbourne. Picture: SIMON SCHULTER

Sophie Mirabella has been awarded $175,000 in compensation for the damage in reputation caused by a defamatory Benalla Ensign article.

Speaking after Judge Michael Macnamara handed down his judgement in Melbourne County Court on Wednesday, Mrs Mirabella said she was pleased with the sensible decision from the judge.

“Whether you’re a politician or whether you’re a member of the public, you should not be subjected to media behaviour that I was subjected to,” she said.

“Perhaps this a sober lesson to them regarding the manner in which they go about collecting information for their stories.”

The April 2016 story claimed Mrs Mirabella pushed Cathy McGowan at an event at a Benalla nursing home, an allegation she denied.

She said it was important the judge noted the Ensign and editor Libby Price acted recklessly and their behaviour afterwards, in refusing to retract the story and apologise, aggravated the damage caused.

VIDEO: Sophie Mirabella talks to the media after the court decision.

The County Court trial was held in Wangaratta earlier this month.

Mrs Mirabella had asked for between $300,000 and the cap of $389,500 to compensate for her damaged reputation, but lawyers for the Ensign argued the amount should be less than $100,000.

“It’s been very difficult for my family and for my children,” Mrs Mirabella said.

“I’ve received a lot of support from people, coming from a lot of different quarters who were appalled at how to allegation really turned out and what happened, so I’m really grateful to all those people.”

Asked if she would consider a return to politics, the former Indi MP said clearly her answer was "no”.

More to come