Alan Jones sued for accusing scientist of ‘dishonestly editing’ report
Alan Jones has been sued by a NSW government scientist of almost four decades' service after the broadcaster accused him of doctoring a noise report on a wind farm planned for Mudgee.
Jeff Parnell, a noise specialist who is also chair of the NSW division of the Australian Acoustical Society, took the defamation action after Jones said on his 2GB radio program in May 2016 that he had altered an independent noise-monitoring report for the Crudine wind farm.
"He has edited the document. I would have thought that involves a few ethical and integrity issues," Jones said on his radio program while interviewing Penny Hundy, a resident near the proposed wind farm.
"ICAC, have you made any submissions to ICAC?" Jones asked, referring to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
In the amended statement of claim obtained by Fairfax Media, the lawyer for Mr Parnell said that after Mr Jones' comments his client had been "greatly injured in his character, credit, business, personal and professional reputation and has been brought into public hatred, ridicule and contempt".
A spokesman for Mr Jones declined to comment when asked about the lawsuit.
Mr Jones is involved at present in a separate lawsuit before the Brisbane Supreme Court. He is accused of defaming the Toowoomba-based Wagner family by wrongly blaming them for the deaths of 12 people during the 2011 floods.
Fairfax Media understands concern about Mr Parnell's modification of the noise-monitoring report originated when he identified a typo in the report's draft.
The author had rejected a separate report that claimed "tonal, low frequency or infra-noice" issues with the wind farm had not been addressed, but had written "we agree" in error.
Mr Parnell's attached comment, dated August 29, 2013, had asked "Should this be 'disagree'??".
Mr Parnell is understood to have been cleared of any inappropriate action by his department and the Australian Acoustical Society was called in to examine the claims.
Mediation between lawyers for Jones and Mr Parnell on Tuesday failed to reach a settlement. A trial date has now been set for mid-July and may run for 10 days.
The wind farm secured approval from the NSW Planning Assessment Commission on May 10, 2016, and construction work is expected to begin this year.
Peter Hannam is Environment Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. He covers broad environmental issues ranging from climate change to renewable energy for Fairfax Media.
Morning & Afternoon Newsletter