Kathy Jackson's selfish, entitled ex-partner Michael Lawler sues because he made a dick of himself on ABC 4Corners
$250,000 per year pension for life, but it's not enough.
Lawler went on the ABC's 4 Corners show voluntarily and made a complete and utter dick of himself, without the ABC's assistance.
Now, he's suing them because of what he did to himself.
A nutcase. And a selfish one.
The former barrister and Coalition appointee wants the public broadcaster to pay him 10 years’ worth of damages to make up the gap between his judges’ pension, estimated at $250,000 a year, and his old $435,000 salary at the commission.
Mr Lawler’s appearance on the Four Corners program was cited by ex-Federal Court judge Peter Heerey in a report on Mr Lawler’s conduct at the time as “far below” what the public expected of somebody in his position.
“The vision of a middle-aged quasi-judicial figure presenting on national television home movies of overseas holidays with his girlfriend, accompanied by saccharine lovers’ chitchat, is at least undignified,” the report said.
“It is likely to provoke that most insidious form of damage to reputation and authority – ridicule.”
In his statement of claim, Mr Lawler alleges ABC investigative journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna invited him in August 2015 to tell “your truth” after a series of adverse media reports, primarily in The Australian.
He says he told her he had become aware of “serious and systemic corruption affecting his own institution but also affecting courts and institutions more generally” and that, after a long consideration, he believed it was “his duty to speak out about those matters”.
He allegedly said he was not interested in a program merely about allegations against him or against Ms Jackson and that he would only appear if the primary subject was the alleged corruption.
At a lunch meeting, Mr Lawler says he explained the issues he believed warranted exposure with “selected documents and diagrams” and claims Ms Meldrum-Hanna agreed this would be the primary focus of the story.
Mr Lawler alleges this was a false representation under the tort of deceit and Ms Meldrum-Hanna and the ABC made it “with knowledge that it was false” or were reckless to whether it was.
But he says he only agreed to participate in interviews and “co-operate fully” with the broadcaster because of this representation.
The ABC declined to comment and has not yet filed a defence.
The program was broadcast in October 2015 and, among other things, showed Mr Lawler secretly recording a telephone call with Fair Work Commission president Justice Iain Ross and using the word “c--- struck” to describe how others were likely to view his relationship with Ms Jackson.
Ms Meldrum-Hanna’s narration in the program described Mr Lawler as claiming he and Ms Jackson were the victims of a “sophisticated, complex conspiracy” led by individuals high up in the ALP in concert with corrupt union officials.
At the time, Ms Jackson was facing allegations of defrauding her former union, the No. 3 Victorian branch of the Health Services Union. She was later convicted in 2020 for spending more than $100,000 of union money on overseas holidays, artworks, entertainment, furniture and a flash car but received a suspended jail sentence.
Mr Lawler resigned from his office on March 3, 2016. He says in court documents that, after he quit, the then Minister for Finance, Matthias Cormann, issued a certificate that “crystallised” his entitlement to a judges’ pension.
The judges’ pension offers commission members who were appointed before 2008 an annual pension worth 60 per cent of the position’s salary, or about $250,000 a year.
However, Mr Lawler’s resignation in his mid-50s, before the mandatory retirement age of 65, meant he had to show he was permanently incapacitated to access the pension.
His statement of claim calls for the ABC to pay him the difference between the pension and the amount he would have earned if he had continued at the commission until he reached the mandatory retirement age in 2026.
The parties are set to appear before the court on Wednesday.
I have tried to explain to people how much of a dickhead he made of himself.
Most people think I'm exaggerating.
Then they watch the 4Corners report - and say it's much, much worse than I'd said.