Clive Palmer fronts media in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Clive Palmer fronts media in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Liquidators sue Clive Palmer for defamation

CONTROVERSIAL litigant Clive Palmer and his media consultant Andrew Crook are being sued for defamation by the liquidators of Mr Palmer's Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd.

The liquidators, John Park, Kelly-Anne Trenfield and Quentin Olde of FTI Consulting, this week lodged a claim for damages in the Supreme Court seeking $500,000 from each of them.

They allege they have been defamed 18 times by publications made in emails, in posts on Facebook and Twitter, in letters by Mr Palmer to former employees and creditors, in public flyers, in comments on radio and in press conferences, in media releases and in a letter to the Townsville Bulletin.

Some of the defamatory imputations include that the liquidators were "greedy, heartless vultures dressed in suits", were "criminals on the run", were "traitors to society" and "deserve not merely to be put in jail but to be publicly executed".

The liquidators are claiming aggravated damages.

The move is the latest in a multitude of legal actions surrounding the closure of Mr Palmer's Yabulu nickel refinery in 2016 involving claims and counter-claims amounting to billions of dollars, as well as defamation action by Mr Palmer against Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill and a threat to sue Townsville federal MP Cathy O'Toole, also for defamation.

While details of a settlement last month between Mr Palmer and Cr Hill were not revealed, it is understood the Mayor was required to pay Mr Palmer $50,000.

Meanwhile, liquidators allege a common intention in Mr Palmer's and Mr Crook's publications were to blame the liquidators for the closure of the refinery.

Instead, liquidators claim Mr Palmer and his companies failed during the administration to pay call notices for liabilities amounting to more than $206 million and that on the day of the refinery closure, the company proposed to continue the business, Queensland Nickel Sales, had no capacity or intention to employ any substantial amount of the employees.

Mr Palmer has claimed the then administrators refused his offer to pay all bills and transfer the workers to Queensland Nickel Sales so the refinery could continue.

He claims Ms Trenfield acknowledged this in an affidavit to the court.

But the liquidators claim Mr Palmer has misrepresented Ms Trenfield's statements.

She had only refused to transfer all of Queensland Nickel's cash at bank for no consideration and for the cash transfer to occur in exchange for an undertaking that their administration expenses would be met, they claim.

"The Trenfield affidavit did not state that (she) had refused an offer to 'transfer' the employees of Queensland Nickel," the statement of claim says.

Meanwhile, Mr Crook said they would be defending the matter.