Ell wanted to get 'rid' of Milne 'by bankrupting her': court

Tweed Councillor Katie Milne
Tweed Councillor Katie Milne

BILLIONAIRE developer Bob Ell brought a defamation case against Tweed Councillor Katie Milne "to rid himself of a pesky councillor by bankrupting her," the Sydney Supreme Court has heard.

Mr Ell claims he has been "gravely injured" by a letter penned by Ms Milne which linked him to murdered Sydney businessman Michael McGurk and made reference to his donations to politicians.

The letter was forwarded to several media outlets.

Ms Milne's barrister is claiming Mr Ell abused the process of the court by launching legal action against the sole Greens councillor for an "improper purpose".

He told the court action was taken against Ms Milne before the period allowed for an apology had ended and that when an apology was offered, Mr Ell responded in an "oppressive and high-handed way".

He argued Mr Ell's attitude had been "serve us up something and we'll tell you if it's good enough...grovel, grovel, grovel".

He dismissed the suggestion Ms Milne had intended to say what Ms Ell was accusing her of as "fairyland" and said it was evident Mr Ell was not truly concerned about the letter because he never led any evidence and when the "big day" in court came, he didn't show.

He said Mr Ell's only concern was to "get a technical win...on record".

Justice Lucy Callum said that while she wouldn't go as far as saying the allegations were "fairyland" they were certainly "robust" but warned that even if Ms Milne's barrister could prove there was "no love lost" between his client and Mr Ell, he still faced the "rather higher hurdle" of proving the case was an abuse of process.

Mr Ell's barrister accepted that while Ms Milne would suffer financially if she were unsuccessful, costs were "a product of a legitimate process" and not a result of an abuse of process.

He said Ms Milne had effectively taken a "two bob each way" approach when offering to apologise for saying things which "may have defamed" Mr Ell.

He rejected the suggestion action should have been taken against the media rather than Ms Milne, arguing the councillor was the one "peddling" the information relating to Mr McGurk.

Justice Callum will deliver on decision on the abuse of process claim on Wednesday morning.

Topics:  bob ell defamation katie milne sydney supreme court

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