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ABC claims Gatto article ‘not sensational’

Underworld figure Mick Gatto claims an ABC article about him was “salacious” but the public broadcaster argues he traded off his reputation.

Mr Gatto is suing the ABC for defamation, arguing he was hurt and deeply aggrieved by accusations that went beyond what he’s ever done.

“The article is not sensational. It’s clearly saying this is what a court has been told,” the ABC’s barrister Matt Collins QC said in his closing address on Monday.

But Mr Gatto’s lawyer claims the article published in March 2019 implied his client was a hitman and a murderer, and threatened to kill gangland lawyer-turned-police informer Nicola Gobbo.

Dr Collins said the article was a fair and accurate report of two court proceedings and the allegations in the article are protected.

There was also little evidence of hurt feelings despite Mr Gatto’s “misplaced” anger towards the ABC.

“Mr Gatto has for decades made a deliberate decision to publicise, trade off and profit off his reputation as an underworld figure and a gangster,” Dr Collins told the Supreme Court.

He is the sort of person who “willingly and proudly” associates with “criminals of the worst kind”, he said.

Mr Gatto has convictions for assaulting police, obtaining financial advantage by deception and in 2009, he stood trial for murder – and was acquitted.

His lawyer David Klempfner said the allegations in the ABC article were “a bridge too far”.

“It’s salacious rather than informative,” Mr Klempfner said.

The closing addresses will continue in front of Justice Andrew Keogh on Tuesday.

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