The now retired MP sued Google, the owner of YouTube, and commentator Jordan Shanks over videos titled ‘Bruz’ and ‘Secret Dictatorship’ published on the friendlyjordies channel in 2020.
The videos included claims that Mr Barilaro was a corrupt conman who should be jailed, who committed perjury nine times and engaged in blackmail.
The now-retired MP settled his Federal Court case against Mr Shanks in November when he provided an apology and edited the videos.
Google initially defended the case but later withdrew all defences and conceded the widely-viewed videos defamed Mr Barilaro.
On Monday in the Federal Court, Justice Steven Rares found that Google ignored the deeply offensive and racist use of language that Mr Shanks directed at Mr Barilaro in his online video campaign.
The judge said Mr Shanks repeatedly and vindictively used descriptions of him like ‘wog’, ‘greasy’, ‘greasy little scrotum’, ‘meatball’ and innuendos linking him to the Italian mafia.
YouTube personality Jordan ‘FriendlyJordies’ Shanks earlier apologised to former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro as part of an out-of-court settlement
John Barilaro (pictured outside court) sued Google over the YouTube videos
Justice Rares has referred the conduct of Mr Shanks and Google to the court’s principal registrar to consider proceedings against each for ‘what appear to be serious contempts of court by bringing improper pressure to bear on Mr Barilaro and his lawyers not to pursue this proceeding’.
The judge will also hear from the parties on what costs order he should make.
In a statement on Monday morning, Mr Barilaro said he was ‘grateful to have finally been vindicated by the Federal Court of Australia in my defamation claim against Google’.
‘This brings to a close a difficult time for me and I could not have gotten to this point without the support of my family, friends and colleagues,’ he added.
‘I am also thankful to my lawyers, Sue Chrysanthou SC and Paul Svilans from Mark O’Brien Legal, who endured immense pressure and exercised their remarkable skills to achieve this victory.
‘All I wanted at the outset was for Google to remove these videos and they refused.’
Mr Barilaro said it was ‘no small undertaking for an individual to take on a company like Google but it was important that I did so’.
‘This decision is a wonderful end to a decade of public service,’ he said.
In November 2021, YouTube personality Jordan ‘FriendlyJordies’ Shanks apologised to the former MP, as part of an out-of-court settlement.
Mr Shanks agreed to pay $100,000 in court costs and an apology was read out loud to the Federal Court on November 5 last year.
‘Throughout 2020 and 2021, Mr Shanks posted many videos about John Barilaro, the former Deputy Premier of NSW,’ barrister Dr Matt Collins QC said.
‘Freedom of expression for political communication is important, but Mr Shanks accepts that some of the videos that he posted were offensive to Mr Barilaro.
‘Mr Shanks understands that Mr Barilaro has been hurt and apologises to him for that hurt.’
Mr Barilaro sued Mr Shanks in May 2021, alleging he was defamed by a series of videos claiming he committed perjury.
Mr Shanks, whose channel boasts more than 130 million views, was accused of falsely making out the NSW Nationals leader had blackmailed councillors and pocketed millions stolen from a local government.
The MP is of Italian heritage and his hurt and harm was aggravated by Mr Shanks’ ‘vile and racist attack’ in the videos.
On top of the $100,000 court fee and apology, Mr Shanks must also edit the two videos and promise not to publish details about Mr Barilaro’s private life.
‘Our client will not be paying a cent in damages to Mr Barilaro,’ solicitor Mark Davis said in a statement.
‘Not one video will be taken down.’
Mr Shanks will also no longer be allowed to sell t-shirts depicting Mr Barilaro or a cartoon showing the former NSW deputy premier as a scrotum.
Kristo Langker, lawyer Mark Davis, entertainer Jordan Shanks and fellow YouTuber Simeon Boikov outside Sydney’s Downing Centre on October 13
Shanks raised more than $1 million to defend the lawsuit, with his solicitors saying the case went to the heart of a citizen’s right to challenge, investigate and criticise politicians.
He pleaded substantial truth and honest opinion but was hampered by the effect of parliamentary privilege as the alleged perjury occurred at a parliamentary committee.
Mr Barilaro’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, said the court had not been told all the terms of the settlement but it was by consent.
Mr Shanks, whose channel boasts more than 130 million views, was accused of falsely making out the NSW Nationals leader had blackmailed councillors and pocketed millions stolen from a local government
Mr Barilaro and Mr Shanks may still face off in court, with police maintaining their criminal prosecution of friendlyjordies Kristo Langker over alleged intimidation of Mr Barilaro in Sydney.
Mr Langker has pleaded not guilty to two charges, with a hearing set for May 2022.