Alan Jones defamation case: Wagner family gives evidence
THE wife of one of four brothers suing Alan Jones has told of her husband's massive personality change as a result of the radio host's broadcasts since 2013.
Elizabeth Wagner, who has been married to John Wagner for 27 years, told the Supreme Court in Brisbane that her husband would sometimes cry daily.
Mrs Wagner said some of the broadcasts critical of the Wagners were at a time when her husband was having cancer treatment.
"I was always concerned the stress exacerbated his cancer," she told the court.
Denis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner have sued Alan Jones, Radio 4BC Brisbane, Jones's employer, Harbour Radio and journalist Nick Cater for damages for alleged defamation.
The total claims against the four defendants were recently increased to $4.8 million.
Describing her husband before the radio broadcasts, Mrs Wagner said: "John Wagner was an amazing husband, an exceptional father, an exceptional businessman".
She said her husband had been very committed to growing the Wagners business
and providing for his family.
He had been an easy going, fun-loving person, who had been committed to working hard, she said.
After Alan Jones's radio broadcasts began, she noticed a big change in her husband, Mrs Wagner told the court.
"He became a lot more teary. I thought he was making a lot quicker decisions. He appeared to be troubled, he just wasn't himself," Mrs Wagner said.
"He was very short with myself and the children ... Obviously he was struggling."
Mrs Wagner said her husband became angry with the name calling in the media.
When asked how he had reacted when he listened to the broadcasts, Mrs Wagner said: "I saw him cry. I saw him stressed with it, just angry with the name calling."
She said he had cried in front of their children, but he had tried to shield them from what was happening.
Mrs Wagner said her daughter, who was at university in Sydney, was asked by someone: "Are you any relation to those bad people on radio?".
She said it was very hard for John and herself to explain it to their daughter.
"How do you explain someone is name calling and ridiculing for the wrong reasons?," she said.
Mrs Wagner said it was not unusual to go to a friend's house or a school or business function and get asked: "How are you getting on with this Alan Jones stuff?"
She said she was unsure if they were immediately being judged.
"As time went on it became more and more difficult," Mrs Wagner said.
She said she thought if they ignored it, it would settle down, but that seemed to exacerbate it and as it went on it became "larger and larger and more intense".
Mr Wagner had prostate cancer in 2010 and later bladder cancer and he had radiotherapy and hormone therapy, the court heard.
Mrs Wagner said her husband's stress and anxiety had recently resurfaced, he was "quite teary" and sleeping erratically.
"It's quite difficult at the moment," she said.
The judge-only defamation trial is continuing.