Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case against Nationwide News

Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case against Nationwide News

Geoffrey Rush wins defamation case against Nationwide News

Justice Michael Wigney wanted to make something clear as he delivered his judgment in Geoffrey Rush's landmark defamation case.

He claimed the articles, one with the headline "King Leer", "irreparably damaged" his reputation by suggesting he sexually harassed and inappropriately touched his co-star Eryn Jean Norvill.

During the trial, Norvill alleged that Rush made "groping gestures in the air with two cupped hands" that simulated "fondling" her breasts during rehearsals.

He was originally seeking more than A$25m in damages, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Justice Wigney said he was not convinced, on the balance of probabilities, that the incidents occurred as described in the evidence.

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. The stories leaned on the complaints of actress Erin Norvill, though did not name her at the time.

Rush and Norvill were both in court this afternoon.

The reports were "in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the worst kind", the court heard.

"It has to be possible for a young woman working in theatre, who feels unsafe in her workplace, to get that situation fixed", Norvill told reporters.

Outside the court after the ruling, he said: "There are no winners in this case".

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The judge said that he was considering the special damages based on the consideration that Rush would likely not receive any substantial offers of work for 12 months after the "vindication of his reputation".

Norvill was a defence witness in last year's trial, telling the court Rush deliberately stroked the side of her breast during a preview performance when her character was dead onstage.

Wigney said on Thursday he did not find Norvill's evidence "credible or reliable" while he accepted Rush's testimony.

He became emotional when he said that to perform the death scene, he imagined "it was my own real-life daughter and that she'd been hit by a bus on the street near where we live. and I knew she was gone".

She echoed Rush's comment that there were "no winners" and called for "genuine, cultural change in our professions and industries".

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

"We disagree with his criticisms of her and she has our full support", English said in a statement.

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

Rush won the best actor Oscar in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in "Shine" and was nominated for roles in "Shakespeare In Love", "Quills" and "The King's Speech".

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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