Underbelly: legal issues
- Underbelly's original launch date of February 08, 2008 was cancelled on legal advice. The series debuted February 13, 2008
- On February 12, 2008 a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Betty King banned the television and internet broadcast of Underbelly in the state of Victoria until the conclusion of a murder trial of an unidentified man set to begin on March 31, 2008. Nine was also ordered to remove character profiles from the series' website.
- Nine opposed the original successful request from the Crown Prosecutor to ban the series but had their appeal dismissed. The network was subsequently ordered to pay the costs of the appeal for the Office of Public Prosecutions.
- The broadcast ban initiated a flood of interest in the downloading and trading of bootleg episodes from those in the state of Victoria. Some copies were alleged to be have sourced from the Nine Network's own promotional DVDs.
- The original court ruling banning the series in Victoria was later revised to prohibit all Victorians, not just the Nine Network, from transmitting or exhibiting the series in an effort to counter 'viewing parties' in border communities where television signals from neighbouring states were available.
- The broadcast of Underbelly was used by Tony Mokbel to fight his extradition from Greece, arguing it made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.
- A lawyer acting for Carl Williams suggested the series could affect his client's appeal
- The book on which the series was based, Andrew Rule's Leadbelly, originally published in 2004, was not banned and has since become a bestseller.
- The individuals portrayed by Alex Dimitriades, Ian Bliss, Kim Gyngell, and Fletcher Humphrys cannot be named by Order of the Supreme Court of Victoria. They are refered to only as Mr T, Mr L, Mr E, and Mr S respectively.
- George Kapiniaris' character is credited only as "Lawyer" despite early publicity material that did give his name. The character goes unnamed after legal squables between real-life criminal lawyer George Defteros and producers over allegations of potential defamation.
- The DVDs of Underbelly were also banned from sale in Victoria. In the rest of Australia, the DVDs quickly became one of the most successful releases in the country's history with many retailers selling out on the strength of pre-orders alone.
- The reason behind the ban on Underbelly's broadcast in Victoria, the trial of Evangelos Goussis for the March 2004 murder of Lewis Moran, concluded in late May of 2008 with the conviction of Evangelos Goussis. Despite the effective end of the original order, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Rapke QC, recommeded a continued broadcast ban of the series until the conclusion of other trials linked to events and persons portrayed in the series.
- A state government inquiry was launched into the broadcast-ban breaching screening of Underbelly in the Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre. It was alleged a staff member smuggled in pirated DVDs and that a relative of one of the convicted killers depicted in the series was among those who saw the series.
- In August of 2008, 39-year-old Roberta Williams, ex-wife of Carl Williams, came under the scrutiny of the Australian Taxation Office and was charged with nine counts of failing to lodge a tax return from 1998 to 2006.
- A ruling on September 08, 2008 by Supreme Court Justice Peter Vickery granted permission to the Nine Network to air edited versions of the first five episodes of Underbelly in Victoria.
- Prior to the start of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities in February 2009, former Labor party official and construction industry consultant Tom Domican sought legal advice to determine whether he had been defamed by the Nine Network in its promotion of the TV series.
- It was reported in February 2009 that Mick Gatto was also considering legal action over the reference to him in the series two premiere as a prospective hitman.
- In March 2010, prior to the airing of the third series, Underbelly: The Golden Mile, ex-police officer Wendy Hatfield launched a defamation action in the Supreme Court seeking to view episodes of the series believing she was defamed in the series by being intimately linked with John Ibrahim. The case was dismissed with Justice Ian Harrison saying of the case, "Not only is there, in the present case, real room for debate as to whether the statements complained of are defamatory, there is real room for debate as to whether or not there are any statements to complain of at all." and "It does not appear to me at present that the plaintiff may be entitled either to make a claim for damages for defamation against any of the defendants or that she may be entitled to make a claim for interlocutory relief to enjoin them from publication of the series." An appeal was filed and lost.
- The broadcast of first of the Underbelly telemovies, Tell Them Lucifer Was Here, was threatened by the possibility of NSW Police laying charges against one of the individuals portrayed in the movie.
- In December of 2010, former police officer Wendy Hatfield was successful in her NSW Supreme Court appeal of her defamation case against the publishers of the book Underbelly: The Golden Mile which implied she had a sexual relationship with nightclub owner John Ibrahim. She was awarded $59,000 in damages. Her lawsuit against the Nine Network and Screentime Australia was heard in 2011.
- In Januay 2011 it was announced that due to pending legal procedings against one of the individuals portrayed in Tell Them Lucifer Was Here, the first title in the Underbelly Files telemovie series, Nine would broadcast an edited version in NSW at the request of a state court. Changes in the edited version included the use of overdubbing to remove mentions of the acussed's name. However, the name remained, unaltered, in the closed captions.
- On April 19, 2011, the Supreme Court lifted the blackout on the reporting of Tony Mokbel's criminal history paving the way for the unedited version of the first series of Underbelly to finally air in Victoria beginning May 03, 2011
- Following her legal victory in 2010 against the publishers of the book Underbelly: The Golden Mile, in November 2011 former NSW police officer Wendy Hatfield won her defamation case against Underbelly producers Screentime, TCN Channel Nine and Nine Network Australia.
- Wendy Hatfield won another legal victory in March 2012 earning a verdict against publisher Allen & Unwin for the 2010 book Snitch.
- In August 2012, lawyers for Matthew Robert Lawton (one of the men convicted of the murder of Terry Falconer, an event central to the story of Underbelly: Badness) contacted Channel 9 asking the series not be aired, suggesting the series was defamatory and would cause Lawton "considerable damage".