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Settlement reached on A Current Affair lawsuit

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Details of a defamation settlement between former GSA Insurance Brokers Chairman John Hewson and A Current Affair remain confidential after agreements were reached ahead of a Federal Court hearing set for last week.

Dr Hewson, a former Federal Liberal Opposition leader, took action against the Nine network alleging a May 18 A Current Affair report on a flooding claim refusal was defamatory and inaccurate.

Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney scheduled a case management hearing for Monday next week after the parties reported the settlement had been reached, and there was no need for a judgment.

“The matter has been settled and details are confidential,” a Nine spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “We won’t be making any further comment.”

The program focused on a claim refusal related to possessions damaged when the Parramatta Storage King facility was inundated.

Dr Hewson’s statement of claim says an email had been sent to the program explaining that GSA was the broker, not the insurer, and the Storage King units were inundated when “a nearby water course overflowed” during extreme February weather.

The email explained that claims handlers, loss adjusters, and a hydrologist all confirmed that the loss was caused by flood, which was not covered under the policy.

But the program, which named Dr Hewson, aired statements “clearly suggesting that GSA Insurance knew the damage was in fact caused by a storm and was itself dishonestly relying on the flood exclusion”, the court documents said.

Steadfast last August bought a controlling shareholding in GSA Insurance Brokers. Following the changes Paul Hines became Executive Chairman, while Dr Hewson has continued as an adviser to the board.

Dr Hewson’s lawyers said he would not be commenting on the outcome due to confidentiality requirements.