Defamation case dropped over MP corruption reports

Miklos Bolza |

Stuart Robert has denied any impropriety, labelling his referral to a corruption watchdog a “farce”.
Stuart Robert has denied any impropriety, labelling his referral to a corruption watchdog a “farce”.

After suing over reports that he engaged in corrupt practices with ex-federal frontbencher Stuart Robert, the boss of a consulting firm has dropped his defamation lawsuit against Nine.

Synergy 360 chief executive David Milo had sued in the NSW Supreme Court for damages over four Sydney Morning Herald articles from November 2022 and March 2023 that allegedly ruined his and the firm’s reputation.

“Within weeks of and in consequence upon the articles being published, (Synergy) lost a number of existing and potential clients, resulting in serious financial loss,” the lawsuit read.

The reports alleged Synergy 360 and Mr Milo received secret advice from then-Liberal MP Stuart Robert to help six of its clients.

Nine vigorously defended the case, saying its articles were true, in the public interest and based on the honest opinions of journalists Nick McKenzie and David Crowe.

The publisher, in its defence, said it could prove Synergy and Mr Milo “engaged in corrupt conduct” with Mr Robert when he sat on the Liberal front bench.

“(Mr Milo and Synergy) received a financial benefit from the conduct, including in the form of retainer payments and success fees from clients of (Synergy) who procured federal government contracts,” Nine’s defence said.

But whether Nine’s claims are true will no longer be tested in court after the lawsuit was discontinued by Synergy 360 and Mr Milo on April 26.

No judgment was entered against Nine, McKenzie or Crowe.

The articles remain online and no apology has been issued.

After a parliamentary inquiry, Mr Robert was referred to the National Anti-Corruption Commission in September over claims Synergy 360 channelled money to a company linked to him to win government work.

Mr Robert previously denied any impropriety, labelling the NACC referral as a “farce” and example of political payback.

He represented the Queensland seat of Fadden before resigning from parliament in May 2023.

A Nine spokesperson declined to comment on the case being dropped.

Mr Robert and Mr Milo have been contacted for comment.