The Daily Telegraph LOSES appeal against $2.9MILLION Geoffrey Rush defamation claim – the biggest payout to a single person in Australian history
- Nationwide News appealed the court’s finding it defamed Geoffrey Rush
- Journalist Jonathon Moran was found to have been reckless regarding the truth
- The Daily Telegraph reported Rush had been accused of inappropriate behaviour
- The court ruled a poster and two articles contained defamatory meanings
- Rush was given $850,000 general damages and $2million in special damages
Three judges have dismissed an appeal by Nationwide News against a finding it defamed Geoffrey Rush and against the awarding of $2.9 million in damages.
The Daily Telegraph’s publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran were found to have been reckless regarding the truth when they reported Rush had been accused of inappropriate behaviour during a Sydney theatre production of King Lear in 2015.
In the Federal Court in 2019, Justice Michael Wigney ruled a poster and two articles contained several defamatory meanings – including that Rush was a pervert and a sexual predator – and the publisher hadn’t proved they were true.
The Oscar winner was awarded $850,000 general damages and about $2 million in special damages to cover past and future economic loss.
Three judges have dismissed an appeal by Nationwide News against a finding it defamed Geoffrey Rush and against the awarding of $2.9 million in damages
The Oscar winner was awarded $850,000 general damages and about $2 million in special damages to cover past and future economic loss
Justices Richard White, Jacqueline Gleeson and Michael Wheelahan on Thursday dismissed the appeal.
One involved challenging the finding the publication implied the actor is a pervert, but the full court stated a reasonable reader of the article was likely to reach that conclusion.
This was particularly so as the article concerned a man’s use of authority or stature in the workplace to obtain sexual gratification by inappropriately touching a non-consenting co-worker.
Nationwide also challenged Justice Wigney’s finding Erin Jean Norvill, who played the role of Cordelia and alleged Rush sexually assaulted her, was not a reliable witness.
This assessment was based on findings that were not ‘glaringly improbable’ or inconsistent with incontrovertible facts, the full court concluded.
The court also noted Nationwide had not challenged the judge’s finding Rush was a credible witness and evidence given by the production’s director and other cast members was honest and reliable.
The court said the award of $850,000 for non-economic loss was appropriately high but not manifestly excessive given the serious nature of the defamation and other factors.
It also rejected claims the judge erred in his assessment of damages for economic loss.