Geoffrey Rush Wins Court Battle in Defamation Case Against Australian Newspaper
By Zach Seemayer
Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
The Daily Telegraph has lost an appeal in Australian court, and will soon be paying out a record amount to Geoffrey Rush as a result of the actor's defamation lawsuit, according to multiple reports.
In April 2019, Rush was awarded damages to the tune of AU$2.9 million (approximately $2 million) after suing Sydney's Daily Telegraph over articles it ran accusing the actor of past inappropriate behavior toward a theater production co-star.
The newspaper -- along with publisher Nationwide News, owned by Rupert Murdoch -- appealed the ruling, but its appeal was rejected Wednesday by three federal court judges, BBC reports.
Lawyers for Nationwide News reportedly argued that the record sum -- the most ever awarded to a single individual in a defamation lawsuit -- was "manifestly excessive." However, the judges deemed the amount "appropriate," given the damage they believed the articles did to Rush's professional reputation and career.
The defamation suit revolves around a report published by the Daily Telegraph claiming Rush acted in an inappropriate manner toward actress Eryn Jean Norvill in 2015 during a Sydney theater production of King Lear.
The Daily Telegraph ran a front-page story with the headline "King Leer" and detailed Norvill's allegations.
According to a report by the Associated Press, Daily Telegraph editor David English was disappointed with the court's latest ruling and said that defamation laws in Australia needed to be reformed.
"The Rush case exposes the inadequacies of Australia’s defamation laws and heightens the need for urgent legislative reform to enable public debate and to encourage women to come forward with their concerns," English stated. "We will continue to report on the issues such as these which are of great concern to the Australian public."
Rush was not present in court when the appeal was rejected.