Geoffrey Rush defamation case: newspaper's appeal 'weighs heavily' on actor

the Guardian | 5/26/2019 | Michael McGowan
The Daily Telegraph’s appeal against the record $2.9m judgment against it in the Geoffrey Rush defamation case “weighs heavily” on the Oscar-winning actor, an Australian court has heard.

The Sydney tabloid newspaper, through its owner News Corp, is appealing against Justice Michael Wigney’s verdict in the Rush case, citing 16 grounds on which it claims the trial was miscarried and that the judge’s conduct of the case “gave rise to an apprehension of bias”.

April - Wigney - Telegraph - Actor - Behaviour

In April Wigney ruled the Telegraph had defamed the actor by alleging he “engaged in inappropriate behaviour” during a theatre production of King Lear. Last week the court heard Rush will receive $2.9m in damages based on past and future lost earnings.

It it is the largest ever defamation payout to a single person in Australia after the Victorian court of appeal last year slashed the actor Rebel Wilson’s damages payout from $4.5m to $600,000 over defamatory articles in Woman’s Day magazine.

Telegraph - Notice - Appeal - Beginning - Month

The Telegraph lodged its notice of appeal at the beginning of this month, and on Monday the federal court heard both parties want the appeal heard in August.

“Given the nature of the proceedings and the attention it’s attracted, this appeal obviously weighs heavily on him and he wishes it to be determined as quickly as possible,” Rush’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, said.

Telegraph - Judgment - Severity - Damages - Rush

The Telegraph is appealing against both the judgment and the severity of the damages awarded to Rush. Justice Anthony Besanko on Monday gave the newspaper until next month to file amendments to its appeal.

The Daily Telegraph front-page story, published under the headline “King Leer” in November 2017, reported the Sydney Theatre Company had received the anonymous complaint but provided no further details.

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