John and Denis Wagner leave Brisbane Supreme Court where the defamation damages claim reportedly reached $4.8million.
John and Denis Wagner leave Brisbane Supreme Court where the defamation damages claim reportedly reached $4.8million. John Weekes

Bridge-builders felt 'helpless' when Jones spoke

THEY could build bridges and airports and do business in remote reaches of Russia, but were helpless when Alan Jones attacked.

That is what Denis Wagner told the trial where he and his Toowoomba brothers are suing Mr Jones and others for as much as $4.8million.

The Wagners have sued over comments Mr Jones made after the fatal 2011 Grantham floods.

"We had the resources to build an airport ... we could build bridges ... but we seemed powerless to stop this slander," Denis Wagner told the court on Tuesday.

He said the broadcaster had accused his family of "graft" and collusion with Barnaby Joyce after the Grantham disaster.

In a recording played to Brisbane Supreme Court, Jones told listeners: "You think they're not running scared about the Grantham inquiry? You bet they are."

Denis Wagner said he felt "absolutely terrible" after that broadcast.

He said the 2GB broadcaster repeatedly alleged the Wagners intimidated witnesses at the 2015 Grantham flood inquiry.

He also said Mr Jones made multiple inaccurate statements about the Darling Downs family and their businesses.

"In those cases there's probably a feeling [of] helplessness."

He said the Wagners "couldn't say anything or do anything" to combat attacks when the flood inquiry was on.

"You've got nowhere to go, unfortunately."

"I've warned about these people for years," Mr Jones said in another broadcast played to the court.

He said the Wagners were familiar with just two things: "Self-interest" and "bullying".

Mr Wagner said these comments were devastating.

He also mentioned work Wagners did abroad in Russia as an example of family achievements.

On Monday, Denis's brother John said the Wagners did business honourably in Sakhalin, in Russia's Far East.

"It was an extremely corrupt place" he said, but the Wagners, unlike some other firms, played a "very straight bat" abroad.

Dennis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner have argued broadcasts contained "imputations" wrongly suggesting they were to blame for deaths, or for floods when a quarry wall or levee breached or collapsed.

They are also suing Radio 4BC Brisbane, journalist Nick Cater and Harbour Radio.

Mr Jones previously maintained he was acting in a community's best interests.

The trial continues. -NewsRegional