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Geoffrey Rush to receive massive $2.9 million damages in Daily Telegraph defamation case

Geoffrey Rush to receive massive $2.9 million damages in Daily Telegraph defamation case
May 24, 2019

Australian actor Geoffrey Rush will receive $2.9 million in damages from Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph after a series of articles accusing the Oscar-winning actor of “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female actor.

On Thursday, the Federal Court heard lawyers for Rush and the Telegraph had agreed the actor would receive $2 million for past and future lost earnings after tax, on top of an $850,000 payment ordered by Justice Michael Wigney in his judgment in April.

It means Rush now holds the record for the largest defamation payout to a single person in Australia after the Victorian court of appeal last year slashed the actor Rebel Wilson’s damages payout from $4.5 million to $600,000 over defamatory articles in Woman’s Day magazine.

Rush’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, said on Thursday Rush had offered in early 2018 to settle in exchange for an apology and $50,000 plus costs, but the publisher did not respond.

In April, Wigney ruled the Telegraph defamed Rush by alleging he “engaged in inappropriate behaviour” towards the actor Eryn Jean Norvill during a theatre production of King Lear.

The Daily Telegraph front-page story, published under the headline ‘King Leer’ in November 2017, reported the Sydney Theatre Company had received the anonymous complaint but provided no further details.

Follow-up articles were published the next day, which Wigney said “doubled down” on the story.

Wigney found the reports were “in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the worst kind”, estimating that Rush’s earnings as an actor would suffer for as long as two years following the “vindication of his reputation”.

The Sydney newspaper’s publisher, News Corp, is appealing against Wigney’s judgement, saying the judge’s conduct during the case “gave rise to an apprehension of bias”.

That appeal is yet to be heard, but earlier on Thursday News Corp had sought to have Wigney recuse himself from hearing an application made by Rush’s lawyers for an injunction against the Telegraph republishing some of the allegations made against the actor.

Wigney ruled against News Corp, saying he was “not satisfied there is any basis for me to recuse myself and I decline to do”, meaning he continued to hear the injunction application, which continues.

Image of Geoffrey Rush courtesy of Wayne Taylor/Shutterstock.

Related Articles

12th April 2019 - Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case over inappropriate behaviour allegations

1st November 2018 - How did Geoffrey Rush’s alleged inappropriate behaviour end up in court?

17th July 2018 - Sydney Theatre Company wins in 10 categories at 2018 Helpmann Awards

1st June 2018 - Sydney Theatre Company records biggest ever deficit

9th January 2018 - Actor Craig McLachlan accused of indecent assault and sexual harassment during Rocky Horror Show

8th January 2018 - MEAA looks to protect theatre workers from sexual harassment

9th February 2016 - Union accuses Sydney Theatre Company management of ‘ignoring staff safety’


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