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Actor Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case against Australian newspaper

The Daily Telegraph claimed the actor had inappropriately touched a female co-star.

Actor Geoffrey Rush leaves court today
Actor Geoffrey Rush leaves court today
Image: AAP/PA Images

AUSTRALIAN ACTOR GEOFFREY Rush has won a defamation case against a Sydney newspaper over reports that he behaved inappropriately with a co-star. 

A front-page story in 2017 claimed that the Sydney Theatre Company received a complaint that the actor had inappropriately touched a female co-star during a staging of King Lear. 

A judge in Sydney ruled today that the Daily Telegraph, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, had produced a “recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism” and awarded Rush $850,000 (€540,000) in damages.

“There are no winners in this case, it has been extremely distressing for anyone involved,” Rush said in brief remarks outside the court, calling the months-long legal case a “harrowing time”.

Justice Michael Wigney said that reasonable readers would assume from the reporting that Rush was a “pervert” from a series of reports that he ruled were mostly uncorroborated.

The judge said that actress Eryn Jean Norvill’s evidence was inconsistent and that she “was at times prone to exaggeration and embellishment.”

Wigney said he would assess further damages for lost earnings at a later date.

Australia’s defamation laws are notoriously strict and often favour the person accused of bad behaviour.

Rush won the Best Actor Academy Award in 1997 for his role in Shine and is also known for his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and The King’s Speech.

© – AFP 2019

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