NSW police have withdrawn their bid to have YouTuber Jordan Shanks (aka Friendlyjordies) gagged from commentating on his producer’s criminal prosecution and have agreed to pay $22,000 in legal costs.
The concession on Friday came moments before a magistrate warned she would consider issuing a warrant for former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro’s most senior staffer for alleged non-compliance with a subpoena.
Police in June controversially arrested Kristo Langker, a producer for Jordan Shanks’s Friendlyjordies channel, and charged him with two counts of stalking Barilaro.
Langker, 21, has pleaded not guilty, with his lawyers labelling the arrest “outrageous”.
Shanks, who is also fending off defamation action from Barilaro in the federal court, has twice posted videos about the arrest, including after being served with the police application to stop him commenting on the case.
Police last Wednesday said they were not interested in the politics of the videos but were concerned witnesses would be influenced before giving evidence in court, or would refuse to give evidence completely.
Shanks’s lawyer described the gag order and an associated application to find the entertainer in contempt as “tantamount to an abuse of process”.
Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge said the application was “broad and vague” and gave NSW police until Friday to redraft its application and run it properly.
Police withdrew the applications at the first opportunity on Friday, agreeing to cover Shanks and Langker’s legal costs totalling $22,022.
“That’s a reasonable conclusion today and I think that’s appropriate for all sides,” Milledge said.
Lawyers for Langker then told the court the former chief of staff to Barilaro had seemingly failed to comply fully with a subpoena issued on her in late September for documents and phone records.
Siobhan Hamblin, through an email to the court by her lawyers, said she’d been required to return all devices to the government on Barilaro’s resignation on 4 October.
The only documents produced to Sydney’s Downing Centre local court were four pages of messages from a WhatsApp account still under her control.
“The resignation was at least four, if not six, days after [the subpoena was served],” Langker’s barrister, Emmanuel Kerkyasharian, said.
“There was a period of time where she was in possession of the material and required to produce it to the court.”
After multiple attempts to contact Hamblin’s lawyers to provide a fuller explanation, Milledge agreed to begin proceedings to issue a warrant for her arrest.
The magistrate suggested she may sign the warrant but keep it in her office until Monday, airing concern Hamblin would be arrested over the weekend.
“They may have sent something through that hasn’t made its way to the court file,” she said.
“I cannot understand why these lawyers aren’t more … they seem to have abandoned her … they’re certainly not working in her interests at this stage.”
The hearing continues.