2GB host Chris Smith hires defamation lawyers over Ray Hadley Coral Princess comments

2GB radio presenter Chris Smith says he has hired defamation lawyers and “will not be bullied” by fellow host Ray Hadley.

2GB radio presenter Chris Smith says he has hired defamation lawyers and “will not be bullied, even by lifetime bullies” after fellow host Ray Hadley accused him of playing down the Coral Princess cruise ship scare.

Smith rejected any suggestion he received money from the cruise industry and that “anyone who peddles that suspicion had better be prepared to defend themselves in court”.

“I’ve actually engaged two media defo lawyers and will work on that very closely on Monday,” he told listeners on Saturday.

The two presenters have been engaged in a highly public stoush after Hadley blasted Smith last week for comments suggesting people “shouldn’t panic” about the ship, which allowed passengers and crew to disembark despite recording 118 Covid cases on board.

The Coral Princess, with about 2300 people on board, docked at Circular Quay at about 6.30am on Wednesday, after 114 staff and four passengers had tested positive Covid-19.

It was given an amber risk level by NSW Health, allowing the ship to safely maintain critical services.

Passengers and crew were allowed to leave the ship if they returned a negative rapid antigen test.

Those who were infected with Covid and their close contacts were told to isolate in their cabins until they produced a negative test result.

It came after 800 passengers were allowed to disembark in Eden on Tuesday under the same condition that they returned a negative Covid test result.

Hadley said he was “embarrassed to be on the same network” in a heated rant after Smith’s comments on Wednesday.

“One of my colleagues this morning was saying nothing to see here — it’s all wonderful,” he said.

“I’m sorry — but the sort of nonsense I heard on the network this morning is just foolish. I’m almost embarrassed I’m on the same broadcast network as that bloke. But anyway, that’s another story I’ll deal with privately.”

Smith, who was filling in for the station’s breakfast host Ben Fordham last week, fired back at Hadley — without naming him — in a lengthy editorial at the start of his regular show on Saturday morning.

“You may have been following the disagreements that have taken place here on-air over the arrival of the cruise ship the Coral Princess into Sydney Harbour on Tuesday,” he said.

“I made the point that considering 95 per cent of us are fully vaccinated, considering the antivirals that are available now, the new Covid treatments, the testing kits, the many protocols we’ve adopted in two years, the cruise rule that states at a minimum you should be fully vaccinated — the arrival of the Coral Princess was absolutely nothing like the drama and concern that surrounded the Ruby Princess more than two years earlier.”

Smith said “we were defenceless back then, it was a terrible tragedy”.

“But the way the television media traced this latest ship’s every move was way over the top,” he said.

“That was my simple point. It was a beat-up, there was no comparison. There were no critically ill people, no ambulances, and at one stage just four passengers infected. That’s not the same as 28 passing away, no vaccines, no treatments, no protocols, no masks, no defence. Any reasonable person can see the contrast here.”

Smith said “those that beat this up … should be ashamed”.

“Peddling fear in this context is foul and shameful, especially for families with loved ones on board. It scares people for no reason, which is what Dr Nick Coatsworth said to me on the breakfast show as well,” he said. “Which is why I said what I said. It was also consistent with what I’ve said throughout the second half of this pandemic — we need to live with this and stop panicking.”

He insisted “no one has been more critical of the Ruby Princess debacle than myself” and had also stated several times that the biosecurity protocols on the Coral Princess were “very slack”.

“I don’t hold a candle for the cruise industry, except I feel terribly sorry for the tens of thousands of families whose loved ones have been left jobless because the industry was shut down for so long,” he said.

“Anything I can do to help cruising I will do. Let’s get one thing very clear, do not listen to anyone in this place who tries to imply that I had any official affiliation with a cruise line which impacts my opinion. It’s garbage, it’s muckraking. I do not have any connections, none whatsoever, why the hell would I? It’s just a nasty thing to suggest.”

He said he had taken listeners on cruises and read commercials for cruise companies “without payment from time to time because that’s my job”, just as he read commercials for airlines.

“When a cruise company wants to advertise on this show I’m happy to help put bums on board, as I do with scores of clients, for airlines, resorts, you name it,” he said.

“It’s not a paid role, I take no financial advantage from it at all, none, it doesn’t work that way. I have absolutely no link to cruise companies. Why would I ever go into bat for cruise companies for the sake of it? Anyone who suggests I have, anyone who peddles that suspicion had better be prepared to defend themselves in court — I know I can. I’ve actually engaged two media defo lawyers and will work on that very closely on Monday.”

He repeated that “the Coral Princess is no Ruby Princess”, slamming the “chief bedwetters who’ve embarrassed themselves terribly”.

“I hold my head up high on this subject and won’t be intimidated, bullied or scared into acquiescence ever, so thank you so much for your overwhelming support, it’s been phenomenal. Those that have elected to go down a twisted path and get personal to hurt me have terrible glass jaws, they have copped a terrible bashing too on various media platforms which says it all. I will not be bullied, even by lifetime bullies,” he said.

“I love a good rumble, I look forward to further disagreements and I look forward to standing up for myself each and every time.”

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