John Barilaro will fight charge he assaulted a cameraman in Manly scuffle

John Barilaro will fight charges he assaulted a cameraman and broke his equipment as his lawyer reveals he’s struggling and ‘not well at all’

  • Police launched investigation into footage of John Barilaro locked in a scuffle
  • Video was taken outside a bar in Manly, Sydney’s northern beaches, on July 23
  • Mr Barilaro later revealed he had been out for pizza and drinks with friends 
  • He was charged on August 26 with common assault and malicious damage 

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro will defend charges laid against him after a scuffle with a freelance cameraman on Sydney‘s northern beaches earlier this year.

Mr Barilaro’s lawyer Danny Eid indicated on Tuesday afternoon his client would be pleading not guilty to charges of common assault and malicious damage.

‘He’s definitely fighting these charges,’ Mr Eid said outside Manly Local Court. 

Mr Eid also said Mr Barilaro, who has suffered mental health issues in the past, was still experiencing problems.

‘Mentally, he’s not well at all,’ Mr Eid said. 

John Barilaro was charged with assault and malicious damage offences after scuffling with a cameraman outside a bar in Manly in July. He will defend the charges

John Barilaro was charged with assault and malicious damage offences after scuffling with a cameraman outside a bar in Manly in July. He will defend the charges

Footage emerged in July showing John Barilaro and his new girlfriend allegedly lunging at camera crews after being confronted outside a bar on Sydney's northern beaches

Footage emerged in July showing John Barilaro and his new girlfriend allegedly lunging at camera crews after being confronted outside a bar on Sydney’s northern beaches

Mr Barilaro was not present when Mr Eid successfully challenged the validity of subpoenas police had issued to Channel Seven News and radio station 2GB after the scuffle with the cameraman. 

NSW Police served a future attendance of court notice for alleged assault and malicious damage offences on Mr Barilaro on August 26.

The former politician, who quit parliament in October last year, was involved in the altercation with freelance cameraman Matt Costello outside a bar at Manly on July 23.

The onetime NSW Nationals leader initially dismissed questions from a Seven reporter, saying: ‘It’s a night out mate, it’s all good’, before the incident turned ugly. 

Footage circulated online allegedly showed the pair struggling as they grabbed and pushed one another while Mr Costello tried to film Mr Barilaro, who then walked away.

Mr Barilaro later confirmed his involvement in the incident, saying he was confronted in the dark outside a bar and felt harassed during a night out with friends.

‘To come out and have a camera shoved in your face. I’m a private citizen,’ he told 2GB’s Ben Fordham..

‘All I did was push a camera out of my way. I did not manhandle an individual.’

Mr Barilaro claimed he was being hounded by media after a parliamentary inquiry was launched into his appointment at a $500,000-a-year New York trade post.

He had stood down from the role on June 30 following political and public backlash.

‘The reality is people are now piling on, harassing, intruding, not allowing me to get on with my life, I’m a private citizen,’ Mr Barilaro told Fordham.

‘They’ve turned up with a cameraman, I don’t know who it was, all I know is you could see a bright light shining in my bl***y face.

‘I’ll tell you what, some of those people who were at dinner with me, they were pushed and barged out of the way.’ 

Mr Costello said at the time he had been ‘scared’ for his safety after Mr Barilaro and his party allegedly lashed out at him.

‘You can’t behave like that no matter who you are,’ he said. 

Police issued subpoenas requesting 2GB provide an electronic copy of the complete interview between Fordham and Mr Barilaro and an interview Seven conducted with Mr Costello.

Lawyer Mark Davis said last month he would be seeking compensation on behalf of cameraman Matt Costello in a civil action. Mr Barilaro is pictured in March

Lawyer Mark Davis said last month he would be seeking compensation on behalf of cameraman Matt Costello in a civil action. Mr Barilaro is pictured in March

Magistrate Robyn Denes ruled the subpoenas had not be issued lawfully through the court’s registry and ordered they be applied for again. 

Lawyer Mark Davis said last month he would be seeking compensation on behalf of Mr Costello in a civil action.

Mr Costello had suffered a twisted back during the incident and his Sony PXW 180 video camera was ‘severely damaged and it is now inoperable’, Mr Davis told Nine newspapers.     

‘He’s a freelance cameraman and this has been a serious blow to him to have it [the camera] damaged,’ Davis said.

Amy Brown, secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Investment, and Trade, appointed Mr Barilaro to the US trade post, even though there were many other well-credentialed candidates in the running.

She was later sacked and has received an estimated $448,692 payout. 

An independent review into the appointment of Mr Barilaro to the taxpayer-funded job found Ms Brown was indirectly influenced by then-trade minister Stuart Ayres’s preference for who should get the role. 

Mr Ayres resigned as minister last month after a draft excerpt from the review raised questions about whether he breached the ministerial code of conduct with his involvement in the appointment process.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the appointment process was ‘flawed from the outset’ and ordered the independent legal review to establish if Mr Ayres had breached the ministerial code.

The review, carried out by former ICAC inspector Bruce McClintock SC and released last week, found Mr Ayres had not breached the code, but he remained on the backbench.

Mr Barilaro pulled out of an appearance at a parliamentary hearing last month, citing mental health reasons for his absence. 

He took a 10-day break from parliament for mental health reasons in September 2020. 

The assault and malicious damage charges return to court on October 12. 

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