An Australian appeals court on Thursday upheld Geoffrey Rush’s $2 million victory in his defamation lawsuit against Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph, the Associated Press reported.
Last year, Rush was awarded the largest ever defamation payout to a single person in Australia after successfully suing The Daily Telegraph for, what he called, “false, pejorative and demeaning claims.”
The Telegraph, which had published a statement from the Sydney Theatre Company in which Rush was accused of having engaged in “inappropriate behavior,” appealed the award and the court’s decision.
In upholding the decision, the appeals court, according to The Guardian, said: “The award of damages in the present case had to take account of the subjective response of Mr. Rush to the publications, which left him devastated and distressed and consumed by grief.”
The initial case brought by Rush centered on allegations made by Eryn Jean Norvill, who co-starred with him in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” during a production that ran in Sydney from 2015 to 2016.
The Telegraph article, titled “King Leer,” included Norvill accusing Rush of inappropriate touching, chasing her into a bathroom and sending salacious text messages — which the actor vigorously denied.
Following Norvill’s accusation, “Orange Is the New Black” star Yael Stone accused Rush of sexual misconduct committed during a production of “The Diary of a Madman” nine years ago. Rush strongly denied the accusation in a statement provided to the New York Times, but said, “I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress.”
The Daily Telegraph had also appealed the original court’s decision to bar evidence from Stone. The appeals court upheld that decision as well. The judge in the original trial ruled that even though the evidence was important to the case, the lateness of the application would delay the case and unfairly disadvantage Rush.
The appeals court, which upheld the decision on Wednesday, said: “Whether or not the appellants were granted leave to adduce Ms. Stone’s evidence by video link, the length of the adjournment necessitated by the grant of leave to make the amendments would have been the same. The judge’s reasons show careful attention to all the matters, pro and con… Having reviewed the material, we consider that the judge’s decision on the amendment application was, in the circumstances, hardly surprising.”