The Daily Telegraph’s bid to have the judge in the Geoffrey Rush defamation case stand aside because of an “apprehension of bias” in his judgement has failed, with Justice Michael Wigney refusing to stand aside.
The Sydney newspaper’s publisher, News Corp, is appealing Wigney’s judgement in the Oscar-winning actor’s defamation case against the newspaper, saying the judge’s conduct during the case “gave rise to an apprehension of bias”.
Appeal - Time - News - Corp - Wigney
That appeal is yet to be heard, but at the same time, 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.
Thursday - Telegraph - Barrister - Tom - Blackburn
On Thursday the Telegraph’s barrister, Tom Blackburn SC, said the injunction was a “blunt instrument” that would have “a chilling effect on future reporting of an issue which is of enormous significance and importance, which I can conveniently refer to as ‘me too’”.
But Rush’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, said any issue of free speech was “diminished” by the injunction, “first, because of the extremely narrow compass of the restraint sought, and, second, because of the nature of the unsuccessful defence in these proceedings”.
Injunction - Allegations - Rush - Conduct - Relation
The injunction, she argued, only related to allegations about Rush’s conduct in relation to the Sydney Theatre Company production King Lear, and did not follow extend to fair and accurate reporting of the appeal, for example.
“Ultimately, if it is a fair report, it hasn’t breached the order, [but] the respondent [News Corp] has shown disrespect for the court’s decision and cannot be trusted to abide by the court’s ruling as far as the truth of these imputations...
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