Lloyd Rayney wins defamation case against State

Barrister Lloyd Rayney. Photo: AAP
Barrister Lloyd Rayney. Photo: AAP

LLOYD Rayney has won his defamation case against the State of Western Australia.

Justice John Chaney ruled this morning Mr Rayney was defamed by police when he was named as the ‘prime’ and ‘only’ in his wife Corryn Rayney’s murder.

The incident occurred at a 2007 media conference given by WA Police detective Jack Lee.

Mr Rayney first flagged legal action back in 2008 and hearings began in the Supreme Court in February this year.

Mr Rayney was not in court to hear the verdict, as he was working at a trial in the District Court.

He was reportedly awarded $600,000 in damages, but the full amount he will be paid will be determined at a hearing next week.

It will likely be less than the $10 million he claimed, but could be more than the $5 million that the state estimated his losses were.

That would eclipse the recent record $4.5 million compensation payout to actor Rebel Wilson over defamatory magazine articles published by Bauer Media.

Mr Rayney’s lawyer, Martin Bennett, spoke outside court alongside Mr Rayney’s daughter Sarah and said the judgment was a great relief.

“Of course there is emotion. He is an intensely private man. It was something that has had a prodigious effect on Mr Rayney for the last 10 years,” he told reporters.

Mr Bennett said the judgment was a negative one about the conduct of police, both in their investigation of the murder and Detective Lee’s press conference.

Two violent criminals with a history of sex offences were named as suspects, one of whose DNA matched that on a cigarette butt outside the Rayney’s home, but were never charged.

“(As the judgment states) there is a significant portion of this community who still believes Mr Rayney murdered his wife,” Mr Bennett said.

That was why an “enormous amount in damages … much more than has been awarded in this state” was needed to vindicate his reputation, he said.

The fact that the economic damages would only apply for three years was disappointing, he said.

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