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Not 'Credible Or Reliable': Geoffrey Rush Wins Defamation Case Against The Daily Telegraph

After a star-studded and highly-publicised trial, actor Geoffrey Rush has won his defamation case against Nationwide News following two articles that suggested he inappropriately touched a colleague.

Justice Michael Wigney handed down his judgment on Thursday afternoon, some five months after he reserved his decision following the hearing.

He awarded the Hollywood star $850 000 in aggravated damages. Wigney said the amount is just for the hurt to his reputation, and there could be more for the economic loss from lost jobs.

"My judgement runs to over 200 pages in length," Wigney said.

Wigney said that he is “not satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that the incidents the Daily Telegraph’s lawyers alleged, actually occurred.

He found that Eryn Jean Norvill’s evidence was "not credible", nor was the evidence of fellow actor Mark Leonard Winter, who backed Norvill.

Wigney also said that Norvill was "prone to exaggeration and embellishment" while giving evidence.

Wigney said the newspaper "did not make out their truth defence”.

The defamation case related to articles in The Daily Telegraph that alleged Rush behaved inappropriately toward a co-star, later revealed to be Norvill, during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear between 2015 and 2016.

Wigney criticised the articles written by Moran, describing them as  "Reckless ... and sensationalist journalism of the worst kind. Of the worst kind."

Geoffrey Rush and Eryn Jean Norvill in Sydney Theatre Company’s King Lear. IMAGE: supplied

Rush denied the allegation and said Nationwide News and Jonathon Moran made him out to be a pervert and sexual predator over two articles published in late 2017.

Wigney also referenced the use of a photograph of Rush with the headline “King Leer”.

“The effect of the pun and the photo was almost alone to convey that Rush was a man who leered at people," he said on Thursday.

Outside of court Rush thanked his wife and children and said it had been an ordeal.  He did not answer any questions.

Norvill made a short statement saying there were "no winner, only losers" and thanked her family for their support.

There will be a case management hearing on 10 May to figure out further details regarding additional damages.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au