Academy Award-winning actor Geoffrey Rush set a record in Australia when a court awarded him $2.9 million in a #MeToo defamation suit — the highest in the country’s history.
Though Rush had previously won his lawsuit against The Daily Telegraph last month, a federal court in Australia ruled on Thursday that the publication would have to pay another $2 million on top of the $850,000 that was awarded last month.
“Rush now holds the record for the largest defamation payout to a single person in Australia after the Victorian Court of Appeal last year slashed actor Rebel Wilson’s damages payout from $4.5m to $600,000 over defamatory articles in Woman’s Day magazine,” reports The Guardian. “Rush’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, said on Thursday Rush had offered in early 2018 to settle in exchange for an apology and $50,000 plus costs, but the publisher did not respond.”
Though the original Daily Telegraph article published Rush’s accuser as anonymous, she was later revealed to be actress Eryn Jean Norvill, who alleged that the Oscar winner “engaged in inappropriate behaviour” during a theater production of King Lear. As reported by The Daily Wire’s Ashe Schow back in April, Judge Michael Wigney ruled that the Daily Telegraph published “extravagant, excessive, and sensationalist” articles without just cause. The Telegraph’s egregious actions were compounded by the fact they “doubled down” on the story, according to Wigney.
In April of last year, shortly after Geoffrey Rush announced his lawsuit, the “Pirates of the Carribean” actor said the allegations had ruined his life.
“I asked why the information was being withheld, and why, according to standard theatre practice, the issue had not been raised with me during the production via stage management, the director, my fellow actors or anyone at management level,” Rush said at the time. “However, no response was forthcoming.”
According to legal documents filed in Australian federal courts, Rush claimed he endured “tremendous emotional and social hardship” to to the point of eating very little food, along with sleeping difficulty and anxiety in public. “The applicant has found that as a direct result of the publications he has been constantly associated in Australia and internationally with the #MeToo movement,” his lawyers stated at the time.
Geoffrey Rush also left his role as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts just one month after The Daily Telegraph’s article, which was ultimately denounced by Judge Wigney as “a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the worst kind.”
News Corp., the parent company of The Daily Telegraph, has announced it will appeal the judgment, alleging that Wigney’s behavior “gave rise to an apprehension of bias.”
“That appeal is yet to be heard, but earlier on Thursday, News Corp. had sought to have Wigney recuse himself from hearing an application made by Rush’s lawyers for an injunction against the Telegraph republishing some of the allegations made against the actor,” reports The Guardian. “Wigney ruled against News Corp., saying he was ‘not satisfied there is any basis for me to recuse myself and I decline to do.'”