Culture

Actor Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case after newspaper’s ‘King Leer’ article

Actor Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case after newspaper’s ‘King Leer’ article”

He said Norvill was, at times, "prone to exaggeration and embellishment", including when she alleged the cast and crew in the Sydney Theatre Company's 2015-16 production of King Lear were complicit in Rush's inappropriate behaviour because they failed to speak out against it.

Rush denied all wrong-doing and claimed the stories carried the imputations that he was a "pervert", a "sexual predator" and that he had committed sexual assault.

He said the defence offered by the publisher and Mr Moran, was nearly entirely based on Ms Norvill's evidence.

Tom Blackburn, SC, for Nationwide News, told the Federal Court in November a year ago that the Telegraph's first front-page report had been "carefully constructed" to emphasise the actor's denials.

Mr Wigney was scathing of the newspaper's reporting.

Justice Wigney said this was a "sad and unfortunate case" and it would have been better for everyone involved had it been dealt with outside this "harsh and adversarial" forum, he said.

The court also heard allegations that Rush put her hand up Norvill's shirt on separate occasions, and that Norvill's colleagues in the production were somewhat "complicit" in allowing his behaviour.

"This was, in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind", he said.

"I was not ultimately persuaded that Ms Norvill was an entirely credible witness".

It was hard to avoid the conclusion that the article headlined "King Leer" was "calculated to damage", the judge said, adding the impact on Rush was "devastating".

Crowe said she had seen Norvill was "very upset" after the closing night of King Lear and added that "knowing Geoffrey's reputation I'm afraid I'd assumed he may have been the cause but didn't want to push her at the time".

"The moment I became aware of rumors of a complaint I immediately phoned and spoke to senior management at the Sydney Theatre Company asking for clarification about the details of the statement", Rush said in a statement.

She echoed Rush's comment that there were "no winners" and called for "genuine, cultural change in our professions and industries". "We can do it, but only if we acknowledge and confront with honesty the problems and the complexities of the power imbalances in our workplaces".

"We are disappointed with Justice Wigney's findings, in particular his dismissal of Eryn Jean Norvill's evidence".

"We disagree with his criticisms of her and she has our full support".

The Daily Telegraph's editor Ben English said he was reviewing the judgment.

In an unrelated allegation, Orange Is the New Black actress Yael Stone told The New York Times in December that Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviour when they starred in The Diary of a Madman in 2010.

He also allegedly sent her a text saying that he thought of her "more than is socially appropiate".

He received his nation's highest civilian honour in 2014, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for service to the arts.



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