News Crime Mick Gatto to appeal ABC defamation ruling

Mick Gatto to appeal ABC defamation ruling

Underworld figure Mick Gatto says he intends the decision. Photo: AAP
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Underworld figure Mick Gatto has vowed to launch an appeal after losing his defamation case against the ABC.

Mr Gatto says he’s “extremely disappointed” by Victorian Supreme Court Justice Andrew Keogh’s ruling, which was handed down on Friday.

“This ain’t the end I promise you,” Mr Gatto said.

“I’m going to fight it tooth and nail all the way.”

Mr Gatto sued the ABC over a February 2019 article that he said implied he was a hitman and murderer, who had threatened to kill gangland barrister Nicola Gobbo.

He alleged the article also implied he was one of Australia’s most violent criminals who had been involved in the unsolved murder of fruiterer Frank Benvenuto in 2000 and the murder of Victor Peirce in 2002.

But Justice Keogh ruled Mr Gatto had not been defamed by the public broadcaster, and the ABC’s report was “entirely accurate”.

He said it was understandable Mr Gatto was unhappy about the publication of the allegations, but ruled the ABC had not claimed they were true.

The article, by journalists Nino Bucci and Sarah Farnsworth, reported on statements made by others during legal proceedings.

Speaking to the media in Bendigo on Saturday, Mr Gatto insisted the ABC was reporting lies.

He said the defamation case had never been about money, but was instead about pride.

“I’ll sell everything I’ve got and I’ll go all the way until I clear my name and the legacy for my children,” he said.

During Mr Gatto’s evidence in the defamation proceedings last July, he admitted associating with dangerous and violent men, including hitman Benji Veniamin – who he killed in self-defence in 2004 – and other underworld figures including Alphonse Gangitano, Mario Condello and Lewis Caine.

But he described them as “gentlemen” and said his circle of friends also included politicians, lawyers, high-end builders and unionists.

Mr Gatto reached a confidential settlement with The Daily Mail last year over similar comments, accepting an apology and “significant” payout which included $55,000 in legal fees.