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Unvaccinated Clive Palmer allowed into court hearing

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Billionaire Clive Palmer will be able to be present in a Sydney courtroom for his defamation trial despite being unvaccinated against COVID-19.

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Mr Palmer is suing Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan in the Federal Court claiming his public comments, including labelling him the “enemy of West Australia”, had damaged his reputation.

The premier has lodged a counter-claim claiming Mr Palmer defamed him in several interviews.

At a case management hearing on Friday, Palmer’s barrister Peter Gray applied for his client to give evidence via audio-visual link at the trial due to start on January 31.

As Palmer had revealed publicly, he was not vaccinated, but his lawyers understood the court’s protocols required anyone coming into the room to be vaccinated.

Justice Michael Lee said this was incorrect.

“I am not going to deny anyone access to my court room because of their vaccination status,” he said.

Mr McGowan’s barrister previously indicated he may apply to give evidence remotely if the WA border wasn’t opened by January 31, but no application was made on Friday.

Justice Lee stressed his “firm preference” for litigants, particularly the parties and in defamation cases, was to give evidence in person.

Background to the case includes claims relating to the circumstances surrounding WA legislation which prevented Mr Palmer and his company Mineralogy from suing the state for billions of dollars.

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