Geoffrey Rush awarded at least $899k in defamation case over Sydney newspaper

Actor Geoffrey Rush has been awarded at least NZ$899,870 after a Federal Court judge found he was defamed by a Sydney newspaper and journalist.

Justice Michael Wigney yesterday said the publisher of the Daily Telegraph and journalist Jonathon Moran had been reckless regarding the truth when they reported an allegation of inappropriate behaviour by Rush in 2017.

The judge found a poster and two articles contained several defamatory meanings - including that Rush was a pervert and sexual predator - but the news organisation didn't prove they were substantially true.

The Telegraph's articles related to an allegation Rush behaved inappropriately to a co-star - later revealed to be Eryn Jean Norvill - during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015-16.

Norvill was the main defence witness at last year's defamation trial, telling the court Rush deliberately stroked the side of her breast during a preview performance when her character was dead onstage.

She said he also touched Norvill's lower back backstage, made groping gestures and sexual innuendo toward her during rehearsals and said in a message after the production that he thought about her "more than is socially appropriate".

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

He awarded Rush NZ$899,870 for general and aggravated damages and set down a hearing in May to consider special damages which could ammpunt to millions.

Outside court, Norvill stood by her testimony, saying: "I told the truth. I know what happened. I was there."

Rush said there were no winners in the case and it had been "extremely distressing for everyone involved".

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