YouTube comedian Jordan Shanks-Markovina, known online as Friendlyjordies, has received more than $1m in donations to fight a defamation case brought against him by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
More than 24,000 donations have been received, with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd among them, totalling $1.06m.
Mr Barilaro alleges he was defamed in the Friendlyjordies videos bruz and Secret Dictatorship in September and October last year. The Deputy Premier argues he is incorrectly portrayed as a “corrupt conman” among other imputations.
The donations will also be used to defend the interests of Friendlyjordies producer Kristo Langker and his family following his arrest by the NSW Police fixated persons unit in June.
The money has been deposited into a trust account for Xenophon-Davis lawyers, who are representing both Mr Shanks-Markovina and Mr Langker.
“We are profoundly grateful for the support of tens of thousands of Australians who have seen the importance of these legal battles,” Xenophon Davis partner Mark Davis said in a media release on Thursday.
“We believe these cases go to the heart of a citizen’s right to challenge, investigate and criticise politicians. We are inspired by this level of support.”
Mr Shanks-Markovina also thanked donors for their support.
“A huge thank you to everyone that has supported us over the past month,” he said in the same release.
“We will never forget this generosity. We have received more than 24,000 individual donations – that’s more people than those who first voted John Barilaro into parliament. We know the public is on our side in this battle.”
Mr Langker, 21, was charged by the NSW Police fixated persons unit last month with two counts of stalking or intimidating Mr Barilaro with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm.
“I am facing the overwhelming forces of the police and the Deputy Premier of this state and now I have the means to fight back,” Mr Langker said in the Xenophon-Davis media release.
“I cannot imagine how horrifying it is for others who’ve also endured politically motivated intimidation but don’t have the means to resist.”
Mr Rudd wrote an article on his website explaining his decision to donate to the legal fund.
“Whatever your feelings about friendlyjordies, the potential consequences of these legal battles are too big to ignore,” he wrote.
“For that reason, I have donated to Langker’s legal defence fund and encourage others to do so as well.
“In the meantime, I respect Barilaro’s right to defend his reputation in the civil courts.”