Lawyers for a man charged in a bus crash in Victoria have filed a defamation action against The Advertiser, alleging it published a misleading report about their client.
The Adelie lawyer who filed the claim said his client was not at fault for the crash in September, and the newspaper’s report “undermined” his client’s claim that he was not involved in the crash.
The newspaper said it had sought comment from Mr Abbott and his wife.
The claim is likely to be heard by the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday.
The lawyer said he would seek to recover more than $200,000 in damages from The Adelsie, saying the newspaper had published a false report that had “damaged” his reputation.
The court documents were seen by the ABC’s Victoria Lawyer show Mr Abbott has previously been charged with a range of serious offences including dangerous driving, driving without insurance, speeding and causing death.
A statement from the solicitor said his clients had been advised that The Adellesie had not filed a defence against the claims.
The case has sparked outrage in Victoria and across the country, with the newspaper saying the allegations were baseless and that the claims were made to discredit Mr Abbott.
In a statement on Thursday, the newspaper said that Mr Abbott had not been in court at any point during the legal process.
“Mr Abbott has made a number of statements to the media over the last two years about his own legal proceedings and his personal history,” the statement read.
“This claim is one of those statements, made in the hope that it will assist him in seeking to defend himself in the court of law.”
‘This is a matter of great concern’ Mr Abbott’s lawyers said the allegations against him had not affected their client’s life and his wellbeing.
“The Advertisers story has made it very clear that it is entirely false, and has caused serious distress to Mr Abbott,” the lawyer said.
“He has been subjected to an extraordinary amount of pressure and intimidation by the media.”
Mr Abbott was involved in a traffic accident on his way to work in September last year and was taken to hospital, but was later discharged.
A number of other vehicles were involved in separate crashes on the same day, including a van, a van with two people in it and a truck.
The car and van were later found at a rural area on the outskirts of Melbourne, with Mr Abbott allegedly speeding and driving without his insurance.
A week later, the van was discovered in the bush by the Adelesie, who were unable to locate Mr Abbott, and he was arrested.
Police said he was found to have been in a blood alcohol level of 0.19 and had been involved in at least three separate crashes, including one on a highway on the way to his job.
The family’s lawyer, John Bowers, said the claims had been made to “dishonour” Mr Abbott by “a group of people who have no respect for the legal system”.
Mr Bowers said the family had been given a letter from a lawyer for the Adelsies, which claimed the family would be seeking compensation for Mr Abbott “for the damage that has been caused”.
Mr Abbott is due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on December 19, where a hearing will take place on whether he should be granted bail.
The trial has been adjourned until January.