The Daily Telegraph has appealed the loss of the defamation case brought against it by Geoffrey Rush on the base the federal court judge was biased and his awarding of $850,000 in damages was “excessive”.
Rush was awarded the large sum last month after he sued the Telegraph’s publisher Nationwide News over stories of his alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a colleague in 2015-16.
Wigney said the newspaper produced “recklessly irresponsible pieces of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind”.
In a notice of appeal filed with the Federal Court yesterday, Nationwide News listed 16 grounds for appeal, including that the trial heard by judge Michael Wigney “miscarried in that the conduct of the proceedings by the primary judge gave rise to an apprehension of bias’’.
Nationwide News is also refuting Wigney’s claim that the newspaper’s star witness, actress Eryn Jean Norvill, was an unreliable witness “prone to exaggeration”.
The Sydney newspaper in 2017 claimed Rush behaved inappropriately towards Norvill during a Sydney Theatre Company King Lear production, which Rush denied.
Norvill didn’t speak to the Telegraph for its articles, but later testified Rush sexually harassed her during the King Lear production.
Norvill claimed Rush called her “yummy” and “scrumptious” and stroked her lower back and toucher her breasts during a preview performance.
In his judgment, however, Wigney said he found Norvill’s evidence unreliable, saying she was prone to “exaggeration” or “embellishment”.
The Telegraph referenced that criticism as part of its appeal, also claiming the general damages awarded were “excessive”.
The newspaper also appealed on the basis it was denied procedural fairness, for example, some witnesses weren’t allowed to give evidence.