Actress Provides Statement In Rush Case
Rush still denies claims he behaved inappropriately towards a female colleague.
The actress at the centre of Geoffrey Rush's defamation case has alleged he traced his hand across the side of her breast and touched her lower back when they starred in a Sydney theatre production, according to court documents.
The Daily Telegraph and its reporter, Jonathon Moran, will attempt to prove a defence of truth when the case goes to trial in October now the actress has provided their lawyers with a statement.
Rush is suing the Telegraph's publisher and Moran over articles about allegations he behaved inappropriately towards a female colleague - later revealed to be Eryn Jean Norvill - during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015.
The 67-year-old actor denies the claims.
The Telegraph published the articles in 2017 without Norvill's co-operation and Rush's lawyer claims the STC begged Moran not to publish in an email which stated: "This is her story to tell."
But the Federal Court on Thursday heard Norvill had agreed to give her account more than seven months after the first article was published, providing a statement to the Telegraph's lawyers in July.
Their amended defence - based on her statement - includes allegations Rush's hand "traced across" the side of Norvill's breast during a preview performance, according to an outline of submissions filed by Rush's lawyers.
He's accused of touching her lower back under her shirt, making lewd gestures in her direction and making groping gestures in the air. Six months after the production, Rush also allegedly sent Norvill a text message saying he thought of her "more than is socially appropriate".
Rush's lawyers in the document argue some of the allegations lack precision and there's no explanation why they vary starkly from claims previously made by the Telegraph in an earlier defence.
That defence was struck out by Justice Michael Wigney in March after he found its claims were "plainly deficient" and "vague and imprecise".
The new defence has forced the trial to be delayed by seven weeks and Rush's lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou, on Thursday said he would seek indemnity costs and aggravated damages.
"Mr Rush is suffering continuing trauma because of these proceedings and because of the allegations, so the delay of seven weeks is maybe not a big deal to News Limited, but it is a big deal to him," the lawyer said in the Federal Court.
She criticised the Telegraph for publishing the original articles without speaking to Norvill.
"They did publish two front page articles accusing my client of sexual misconduct when they had nothing," Ms Chrysanthou said.
"Now we know what they did have was rubbish."
The Telegraph's lawyer, Alec Leopold SC, said they were seeking witnesses to corroborate what Norvill said about Rush touching her breast and lower back.
He said the nature of the allegations and Rush's "position in the acting world" meant not everyone wanted to speak about the claims.
"There are people we know who can corroborate it," Mr Leopold said. He rejected Ms Chrysanthou's claim that the STC had begged Moran not to publish.