Alan Jones is among those the Wagners are suing for defamation.
Alan Jones is among those the Wagners are suing for defamation. Jonathan Ng

Alan Jones, Wagner flood defamation trial trimmed back

THE ENORMOUS defamation trial involving broadcaster Alan Jones and Toowoomba's prominent Wagner family will be trimmed down.

The lawsuit over comments made after the deadly and catastrophic 2011 Grantham floods is expected to take up to seven weeks.

But it will now involve fewer "lay witnesses" from the Grantham area than previously expected.

Other witnesses will likely be experts, such as hydrologists.

Deemed too complex for a jury, the trial will be heard before Justice Peter Flanagan from April 30.

On Friday, Justice Flanagan told Brisbane Supreme Court he hoped to avoid making a gargantuan "judgment of over 1000 pages".

The court heard that instead of 55 witnesses, there would now probably be just under 40.

"The real issue will be whether the opinion expressed is reasonable, or fair comment," Justice Flanagan said.

Denis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner sued Mr Jones, Radio 4BC Brisbane, journalist Nick Cater and Harbour Radio over comments made after the January 2011 floods.

Justice Flanagan said all sides needed to agree on which comments were voiced as "statements of fact" and which ones were expressed as opinion.

The Wagners previously argued the broadcasts contained "imputations" wrongly suggesting they were to blame for the deaths of 12 people, or for the flood when a quarry wall or levee breached or collapsed.

Mr Jones previously said his actions were those of a journalist acting in a community's best interests after the tragedy. -NewsRegional