Daily Mail offers 61-page defence to Erin Molan’s defamation case over claims of racism

Channel Nine host Erin Molan. Source: AAP

The defamation lawsuit from Erin Molan against The Daily Mail for using the word ‘racist’ to describe her has a new twist. The British owned newspaper has provided a defence document of over 60 pages alleging Molan and 2GB’s Continuous Call Team have used “racist content” on their show on many occasions.

Erin Molan’s defamation case against The Daily Mail has had a twist. reported on Wednesday lawyers representing the London-based newspaper have sifted through years of the Rugby League podcast Molan appears on. 

The 61-page dossier from The Daily Mail’s defence team, as reported by News Corp, alleges Molan and her colleagues at 2GB’s Continuous Call Team have regularly used “racist content” on their program making fun of Pasifika and Maori names, as well as mocking Chinese and Indian accents. 

Molan’s lawsuit targets three articles The Daily Mail ran between June 4 and 5 this year. The bone of contention is the use of the word ‘racist’ to describe Molan in those articles. 

The first article the Daily Mail ran on Molan alleged she used racist language in a discussion on the pronunciation of the names of Pasifika players where she said, “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka.”

The Daily Mail has reported that the defence team alleges Molan and the Continuous Call team mocked ethnic names and put on fake accents more than 20 times on the radio. One example they cite is allegedly from September 2018 where Molan and her co-hosts discussed Maori names in this manner: 

“So what about his surname, what do you call him, Kata or Katar?” Daryl Broham asked, Molan responded, “Qatar is a city in the middle east.”

“It's Kwi-tar,” Ray Hadley replied, then Molan said again, “same difference.”

Molan’s lawyers are reported to have told NCA NewsWire on Wednesday, “Ms Molan has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia for defamatory allegations made about her by the Daily Mail.”

“Those allegations, now repeated by the Daily Mail in its defence, are denied. It would be inappropriate to comment further as the matter is before the court.”

At the time, Pasifika players in the NRL flocked to condemn Molan’s comments. Former Rugby League player Junior Poluleuligaga took to Twitter, calling for a boycott on Molan. 

“I hope the poly boys in the NRL decline her when being asked to do an interview or anything to do with her until she apologises," he wrote.

"I know how it feels. It used to make me feel embarrassed + angry when I should have been feeling proud along with my family. Inside joke my ass."

The Daily Mail claimed Molan refused to apologise for her comments, and reported at the time she made the comments as a part of an ‘in-joke’ between herself and co-host Daryl Brohman. 

But Molan disputed this claim in a statement in June.

She said, “The words ‘in-joke’ or ‘inside joke’ have been directly attributed to me by the Daily Mail in headlines and the body of articles multiple times. It has also been repeated as fact in numerous other publications and in personal and public social media posts. The quote is completely made up.”

“My remarks were an attempt to reference a story that has been told multiple times on-air. They were clumsy and inappropriate. I apologised on-air last Friday and that apology stands.”

Players in the NRL with Pasifika heritage make up 45 per cent of current players, while Indigenous players make up 12 per cent. More than half of players in NRL come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

The Daily Mail say their defence includes transcripts from the Continuous Call Team with more than 20 conversations stretching back to March 2017. 

One conversation highlighted by the defence team was co-host Brohman sharing a story about his difficulties pronouncing Pasifika names. It's what Molan claims she was referring to in the comments that triggered the first article in The Daily Mail.

"It was last year at a Manly game and they had a reserve that I hadn't seen before, but he had a name with about 30 letters in it, and I had trouble pronouncing it, and I said to Chris, 'Mate, how do you pronounce this bloke's name?'" Brohman said on April 5.

"He said, 'Well, Dad thought his name was Chooka-lucka-loo-loo, but I said no, no, no, Dad, I think it's Chooka-lucka-loo-loo-loo-loo.'"

In August, Molan's lawyers asked The Daily Mail for an apology, according to court documents, because they allege the coverage led to abuse which included being called a "racist bitch" by former NRL player John Hopoate.

The case is due for it's first hearing in court on Friday.