The inside story of a huge corporate collapses will be unveiled amid a bitter defamation battle between one of its top executives and a gossip columnist.
The inside story of a huge corporate collapses will be unveiled amid a bitter defamation battle between one of its top executives and a gossip columnist.

Inside story of Blue Sky collapse set to be unveiled

The inside story of one of Brisbane's biggest corporate collapses is set to be unveiled amid a bitter defamation battle between one of its top executives and a national gossip columnist.

Former Blue Sky Alternative Investments executive Elaine Stead is suing Nine Entertainment and Financial Review columnist Joe Aston in the Federal Court over a series of columns that she claims defamed her by making "cretinously stupid.''

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AFR publisher Fairfax, now Nine Entertainment, is mounting a defence and has applied for access to financial statements, board minutes and accounts in the various business invested in by Blue Sky.

Blue Sky Alternative Investments, which was touted as Brisbane's version of a Wall St investment bank, collapsed in May last year after breaching lending terms of a $50 million lifeline.

Fairfax columnist Joe Aston speaking at the Sydney Institut.
Fairfax columnist Joe Aston speaking at the Sydney Institut.

 

Ms Stead, 45, has since returned to her native South Australia where she is a director of Myriota which works in the space and telecommunications sectors.

In a court documents filed by lawyers for Ms Stead, they claim Ms Aston's columns contained "intrinsically vicious, offensive and sensational words" about the executive including describing her as "a prodigious destroyer of capital," of making "fatuous investment in peanut startups" and of being a "tax loss specialist."

Ms Stead also alleges Mr Aston's columns contained gratuitous references to her as "a tireless Tweeter of fridge-magnet banalities like 'that feeling when your first coffee is bad, real bad' and 'so much lingerie.'"

Mr Aston also had referred to her as the Brick Tamland of Queensland's fledgling venture capital scene in reference to the fictional idiotic weatherman in the film Anchorman.

In reference to Ms Stead later employment with the South Australian government, Mr Aston wrote that Premier Steve Marshall could be a "national hero by paying Stead $1 million not to invest ... In her case, it's nothing ventured nothing lost."

Elaine Stead
Elaine Stead

 

Ms Stead claims Nine knew of Mr Aston's relentless campaign of vilification against her and was liable for his actions.

In a LinkedIn blog post published last year, Ms Stead said she had been "emotionally, financially and mentally impacted" by the collapse of Blue Sky but didn't regret joining the company.

Blue Sky had billions of dollars of investments in everything from water trading and New York office towers to chicken shops, an online shoe retailer and a portable toilet rental business. Earlier this month, creditors owed more than $50 million were told there was still uncertainty about whether they would receive a cent of their money back.

Originally published as Inside story of Blue Sky collapse set to be unveiled


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