Actor Geoffrey Rush gets $3 million defamation payout

Australian actor Geoffrey Rush has been awarded $A2.9 million ($NZ3.07 million) after winning his high-profile defamation case against a Sydney newspaper publisher.

Justice Michael Wigney in April found the Daily Telegraph's publisher, Nationwide News, and journalist Jonathon Moran were reckless regarding the truth when they reported Rush had been accused of inappropriate behaviour during a Sydney theatre production of King Lear.

The judge said a poster and two articles contained several defamatory meanings - including that Rush was a pervert and a sexual predator - but the publisher hadn't proven they were true.

Justice Wigney previously awarded the Oscar-winner $A850,000 in damages plus $A42,302 interest for non-economic loss, but wanted to further consider other damages and costs.

Following an agreement between the parties, the judge today awarded Rush a further $A1.98 million for past and future economic loss.

It came after Rush's barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, revealed the actor had offered in early 2018 to settle the case in exchange for an apology and $A50,000 plus costs.

She said Nationwide News didn't respond.

The Telegraph and Moran instead tried to prove a truth defence at trial, based largely on the evidence of Rush's former co-star Eryn Jean Norvill.

She alleged Rush sexually harassed her during the Sydney Theatre Company's King Lear production in 2015-16 when she played the daughter of his titular character.

But Justice Wigney ultimately found Norvill was at times "prone to exaggeration and embellishment" and he wasn't persuaded she was entirely credible.

He said Rush had suffered a financial loss as a result of the publications but the prospect of him never being able to work again was "very remote".

"I consider that, all other things being equal, once his reputation is vindicated, he will eventually be able to engage in acting again," the judge said.

Nationwide News and Moran are appealing Justice Wigney's defamation decision, arguing that his conduct of the proceedings "gave rise to an apprehension of bias".

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2017 file photo, Australian actor Geoffrey Rush poses with his 'Berlinale Camera Award' wich he received prior to the screening of the film 'Final Portrait' at the 2017 Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin, Germany. The Sydney Theatre Company says it received a complaint of “inappropriate behavior” against Rush, an allegation lawyers for the Oscar winner denied. The company wasn’t disclosing details of the behavior alleged to have occurred while the 66-year-old Australian actor was an employee. Media reports say the allegation dated from the theater’s production of “King Lear,” about two years ago. His lawyers deny Rush was involved in inappropriate behavior. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)
Geoffrey Rush. Source: Associated Press