Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case
Geoffrey Rush. (Photo: Maximilian Bühn)
Actor Geoffrey Rush has won his defamation suit against Nationwide News, the publisher of The Daily Telegraph.
The publisher has been ordered to pay $850,000 in aggravated damages, with damages for financial loss to be determined at a later date.
Rush sued Nationwide News and journalist Johnathon Moran after, in late 2017, The Daily Telegraph published stories alleging Rush had acted inappropriately to a co-star during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015-2016.
Rush’s lawyers put forward that the publications contained a number of defamatory imputations, including that Rush was a “pervert” and “a sexual predator”, and argued that he had suffered damage to his character and reputation as an actor.
Federal Court judge Justice Michael Wigney today found the publisher had failed to establish a truth defence, and was not convinced the events had occurred as alleged.
“This was, in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the worst kind,” said the judge in a summary of his decision.
Justice Wigney also said he was not ultimately persuaded that Rush’s accuser Eryn Jean Norvill was a credible witness, nor that her evidence was reliable. However he said he was conscious when considering the reliability of her evidence that she had been “dragged into the spotlight” by the newspaper.
“This is a sad and unfortunate case,” said Justice Wigney.
“It plainly would have been better for all concerned if the issues that arose in the saga that played out in this courtroom in October and November last year had been allowed to be dealt with in a different way and in a different place to the harsh adversarial world of a defamation proceeding.”