25 Apr DEFAMATION (AUS): GEOFFREY RUSH WINS DEFAMATION CLAIM
Oscar winning actor Geoffrey Rush has succeeded in his defamation action over newspaper claims of inappropriate behaviour towards actress Erin Norvill during a stage production of King Lear in 2015.
The judge found that Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and the journalist who wrote the articles had not shown that the allegations were substantially true. In Australia, as in England & Wales, the burden of proof is on defendants, if they seek to rely on truth as a defence, in defamation cases. Erin Norvill had given evidence of the alleged inappropriate behaviour, but the judge found she was a witness ‘prone to exaggeration and embellishment’ and that her evidence was contradicted by that of both Mr Rush and other cast members. The judge called the articles: ‘a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind.’
Mr Rush has been awarded $850,000 (£464,420) in damages, but expects to receive a further sum in special damages relating to financial loss he has suffered as a result of the articles which will be determined at a later date. The defendants will also have to pay Mr Rush’s costs.
Mr Rush is well-known for films including The King’s Speech, Shakespeare in Love, Pirates of the Caribbean and Shine, for which he won a best actor Oscar in 1996. Outside court Mr Rush reportedly thanked his family for their support during the case and said: ‘There are no winners in this case. It’s been extremely distressing for everyone involved.’