Erin Molan’s $150,000 defamation payout set aside as long-running ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka’ case against Daily Mail Australia is sent back to court for retrial – after judge made ‘mistake’
- Erin Molan denied mocking Pacific Islanders on 2GB
- Used the phrase ‘hooka looka mooka hooka fooka’
- Daily Mail Australia said the comment was offensive
A decision that Daily Mail Australia defamed Erin Molan in an article alleging she mocked Pacific Islanders in a radio broadcast has been overturned.
Molan used the phrase “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” while discussing the pronunciation of Pacific Islander names in a segment of the 2GB Continuous Call Team program in May 2020.
The Sky News presenter sued Daily Mail Australia in Federal Court over a subsequent article alleging that it falsely portrayed her as racist.
Daily Mail Australia claims Erin Molan mocked the names of Pacific Islander NRL players live on 2GB radio as part of The Continuous Call Team in May 2020. She is pictured in the 2GB studios
Justice Robert Bromwich ruled largely in favor of Molan, awarding her $150,000 in a verdict handed down last August.
Judge Bromwich found the article “never expressly” called Molan racist, but defamed her in other ways, including that she was “an arrogant woman of white privilege.”
Daily Mail Australia appealed the decision and on Friday three Federal Court judges sent the case back to Judge Bromwich to be tried again.
Lawyers for the publisher – and for Molan – agreed that Judge Bromwich had not considered all the evidence originally presented in Daily Mail Australia’s defence.
That evidence included other instances where the publisher claimed members of the Continuous Call team, including Molan, mocked certain nationalities.
The publisher claims that Pacific Islander names were castigated for their length and complexity and that other ethnic groups were crudely mimicked with exaggerated accents.
Molan claims she had no intention of mocking anyone and is not racist.
Molan uttered the phrase “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” during a segment on Nine Entertainment’s Continuous Call Team program, owned by 2GB in 2020. Molan is pictured at a charity ball last August
Judges Steven Rares, Anna Katzmann and Michael Lee accepted that Judge Bromwich had made a mistake last year and ordered the case returned to him.
Issues Judge Bromwich will have to determine include whether Molan was defamed, and if so, whether the publisher can raise any defenses, including whether it was “contextually” true that she engaged in racist behaviour.
Justices Rares, Katzmann and Lee also directed Daily Mail Australia and Molan is set to mediate by the end of the month.
Molan is not required to give sworn testimony at any retrial and the only evidence Judge Bromwich will consider is what was originally presented to him unless he orders otherwise.
Molan, who left the Continuous Call Team in 2020, was part of Nine Network’s rugby league coverage until December 2021 when she quit to join Sky News Australia.
The 39-year-old co-hosts the 2Day FM Morning Crew with Dave Hughes and Ed Kavalee. She also writes columns for The Daily Telegraph.