Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Rush

News Corp loses Geoffrey Rush appeal

An appeal by The Daily Telegraph against Geoffrey Rush's defamation case was dismissed by an appeals court on Thursday.

The three judges in the Full Federal Court also ruled out a retrial and an appeal that the $2.9 million awarded to the actor be reduced.

Mr Rush had sued the newspaper over a series of articles in late 2017 which said he had been the subject of a complaint of inappropriate conduct by an unnamed actress during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear.

The actress was later identified as Eryn Jean Norvill who played Cordelia to Rush's Lear in the production which ran from November 2015 to January 2016.

In their judgement delivered on Thursday Justice Jacqueline Gleeson, Justice Richard White and Justice Michael Wheelahan agreed that the articles carried the defamatory imputation that Mr Rush was a pervert.

Ms Norvill gave evidence during the trial. The newspaper argued that original trial judge Justice Michael Wigney's assessment of her evidence that it was "at times, prone to embellishment or exaggeration" was wrong.


Geoffrey Rush has been awarded $2.9 million. Picture: John Grainger
Geoffrey Rush has been awarded $2.9 million. Picture: John Grainger

The appeal court judges ruled Justice Wigney's assessment of Ms Norvill was based on findings that were not "glaringly improbable".

The appeal court ruled that Justice Wigney had not erred in striking out the newspaper's defence of truth.

During the trial Justice Wigney ruled against hearing evidence from Witness X, who was later revealed to be Orange is the New Black actor Yael Stone. The judges reviewed his reasoning and said his decision was "hardly surprising".

After the trial concluded in December 2018 Ms Stone told the ABC and New York Times that Mr Rush used a small mirror to watch her in the shower and danced naked in front of her when they shared a dressing room while they performed together in the play Diary of a Madman in Sydney's Belvoir Street Theatre in 2010. Mr Rush denied the claims.

Thursday's decision comes less than two weeks after the Federal Courts were hit by their own sexual harassment scandal. Chief Justice of the High Court Susan Kiefel apologised to six women who a special investigator found had been sexually harassed by former High Court judge Dyson Heydon

"There is no place for sexual harassment in any workplace," she said.

Originally published as News Corp loses Geoffrey Rush appeal