Geoffrey Rush Wins Defamation Case Towards Australian Newspaper Writer

SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian actor Geoffrey Rush gained his defamation case on Thursday towards the mother or father firm of a newspaper that revealed articles accusing him of sexual harassment.

The 2 front-page articles have been revealed in late 2017 by The Each day Telegraph, a tabloid newspaper in Sydney owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Nationwide Information. They mentioned that in a Sydney Theater Firm manufacturing of “King Lear” from November 2015 to January 2016, Mr. Rush, 67, acted inappropriately towards a feminine co-star.

Talking to a packed room in Sydney, Justice Michael Wigney of the Federal Courtroom of Australia mentioned that The Telegraph had not proved that the articles have been considerably true as required by Australian defamation regulation. He awarded 850,000 Australian , or $608,000, in preliminary damages to Mr. Rush, with damages for the actor’s financial losses to be decided later.

“It is a unhappy and unlucky case,” Justice Wigney mentioned at the start of the decision, including that the accusations ought to have been “handled another way and in a unique place to the cruel adversarial world of a defamation continuing.”

There was no quick remark from Mr. Rush, The Telegraph or Nationwide Information.

One of many articles was illustrated by of a haunted-looking Mr. Rush in character as King Lear, accompanied by the headline “King Leer.” The case grew to become a second of reckoning for each the leisure business and the #MeToo motion in Australia.

Mr. Rush argued through the trial that the articles wrongly portrayed him as a “sexual predator” and a “pervert.” The case rested largely on his phrase towards that of the actress he was accused of harassing, who after the publication of the articles was recognized as Eryn Jean Norvill.

Ms. Norvill, who’s in her mid-30s, testified in courtroom final 12 months that Mr. Rush had acted inappropriately throughout rehearsals for “King Lear,” through which she performed his daughter Cordelia. Among the many allegations, she mentioned that Mr. Rush had made “groping” and “cupping” gestures towards her breasts.

Throughout one scene in a preview efficiency, Ms. Norvill mentioned, Mr. Rush “intentionally” stroked her breast in entrance of the viewers. At one other level, she mentioned, he traced her decrease again alongside the waistline of her denims together with his fingertips.

Ms. Norvill mentioned she had not formally complained on the time as a result of as a junior member of the forged, she was intimidated by the ability of Mr. Rush, an Oscar winner who has earned tens of millions for “Pirates of the Caribbean” and different movies. Different members of the “King Lear” manufacturing have been “complicit” in turning a blind eye, Ms. Norvill mentioned.

Justice Wigney mentioned Ms. Norvill, who was not interviewed for the Telegraph articles, had no vested curiosity within the case and was “dragged into the highlight by the actions of Nationwide Information” and the creator of the articles, Jonathon Moran.

However he additionally mentioned Ms. Norvill’s testimony was “at occasions liable to exaggeration and embellishment,” saying her account was “inconsistent” and “immediately contradicted” by different witnesses, together with Neil Armfield, the Australian director of the play.

“I used to be not in the end persuaded that Ms. Norvill was a completely credible witness or that her proof concerning the allegations was dependable,” Justice Wigney mentioned.

He known as the Telegraph articles “a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst sort.”

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