MELBOURNE, Australia — Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of the Fox Corporation, filed a defamation lawsuit against an Australian news site on Tuesday, a day after the outlet challenged him to make good on his threats to sue over a column that claimed links between the Murdoch family and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Mr. Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, the Fox chairman, filed a statement of claim against Private Media, the parent company of the news outlet, Crikey, in Federal Court in Australia. The move came after Crikey issued its challenge to Lachlan Murdoch in an open letter and in a full-page advertisement in The New York Times, saying it wanted to make the dispute a test case for Australia’s strict defamation laws.
The opinion article at the center of the conflict, which lamented the “sorry state of U.S. politics and the Jan. 6 insurrection,” carried the headline: “Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator.” It went on to say that the Murdochs and “poisonous” Fox News commentators had contributed to the assault on American democracy.
In legal letters published by Crikey, Mr. Murdoch’s lawyers asserted that the article contained “scandalous allegations of criminal conduct and conspiracy” and