More than $1 million has been raised to fund YouTuber friendlyjordies’ legal battle with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who he is accused of defaming.
Jordan Shanks-Markovina is being sued in the Federal Court over two videos viewed more than a million times on YouTube about Mr Barilaro.
Mr Barilaro said the entertainer, known by the moniker friendlyjordies, had unduly defamed him and subjected him to a “vile, racist attack” in YouTube videos published in September and October 2020.
In one video, the entertainer refers to Mr Barilaro as a “big, fat, wog c—“, “greasy Ned Kelly” and “a conman to the core, powered by spaghetti”.
The NSW Nationals leader, who is of Italian heritage, said the first video – titled “bruz” – insinuated he was a “corrupt conman” and had “so conducted himself in committing perjury nine times that he should be gaoled”.
But Shanks-Markovina’s lawyers will argue a defence of contextual truth, honest opinion and justification, and have sought to frame the battle as an assault on free speech.
Sydney law-firm Xenophon Davis confirmed on Thursday that $1,060,300 had been deposited into its trust account to support friendlyjordies.
“We believe these cases go to the heart of a citizen’s right to challenge, investigate and criticise politicians,” Xenophon Davis partner Mark Davis said.
“We are profoundly grateful for the support of tens of thousands of Australians who have seen the importance of these legal battles.”
The money will be used to defend Shanks-Markovina in the defamation proceedings, but also to defend his producer Kristo Langker, who has been charged with stalking the deputy premier.
The overwhelming response – which followed a plea for donations on Shanks-Markovina’s YouTube channel – showed the public was on their side, he said.
“We have received more than 24,000 individual donations – that’s more people [than] who first voted John Barilaro into parliament,” he said in a statement.
Among his supporters is former prime minister Kevin Rudd.