Academy Award winning actor Geoffrey Rush will be awarded nearly $2.9 million in damages after winning his defamation case against News Corp’s The Daily Telegraph.
Rush has already been awarded $850,000 in general and aggravated damages after The Tele alleged the 67-year-old had acted inappropriately with young female actors during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015-2016.
Yesterday, the Federal Court was told Rush’s total payout had been calculated at $2.87 million and is now the highest defamation payout awarded to a single person in Australia.
It’s believed that News Corp plan to appeal the severity of the payout.
Rush’s barrister Sue Chrystanthou said in Court yesterday: “This is a respondent that is irrational when it comes to my client, has shown disrespect for the court’s decision and cannot be trusted to abide by the court’s ruling as far as these imputations are concerned.”
The Tele’s barrister, Tom Blackburn SC, argued that awarding Rush such a large payout may deter other women to come out who had been sexually harassed in the workplace.
“The injunction sought is a blunt instrument because a legitimate comment which might convey any one of these meanings is criminalised,” he said.
However, Chrystanthou dismissed the claim as “hysterical”.
“It is hysterical not in the sense of funny, but in the sense of hysteria,” Chrystanthou said.
“It effectively is one of those arguments a party needs to fall back on when they’ve got nothing else.
“How dare anyone come to a court and seek to stop the Murdoch empire from saying whatever it wants.” she said.