Witness X In Geoffrey Rush Case Revealed As Hollywood Actress Yael Stone
Seven days into the defamation trial of Geoffrey Rush vs The Daily Telegraph and reporter Jonathon Moran, the newspaper tried to introduce new evidence. It was from a woman dubbed Witness X.
At the time, Justice Wigney refused to allow her testimony because the trial was already underway, instead suppressing her identity and everything she had to stay.
On the eve of the hearing to overturn that order, everyone involved -- including Rush -- agreed to lift the suppression on Yael Stone’s identity.
But while we can now name the ‘Orange is the New Black’ star, what she had to say in an 85-page affidavit remains a secret.
Rush -- who always denies any wrongdoing -- won the defamation case and was awarded $850,000 in aggravated damages.
Wigney agreed a series of articles detailing allegations of inappropriate behaviour during a 2015/16 production of King Lear at the Sydney Theatre Company defamed the Oscar-winning actor.
“This was in all the circumstances a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensational journalism of the worst kind. The very worst kind,” Wigney said.
He added he didn’t believe the actress at the centre of the allegations -- and the newspaper's star witness -- Eryn-Jean Norvill.
“Ms Norvill revealed herself as a witness who was prone to exaggeration or embellishment," Wigney said.
Lawyers in the case were back in court on Friday, as Rush’s barrister fought to gag The Daily Telegraph.
“In the last seven days, they’ve engaged in a campaign against, with respect to the court, but with the effect of attacking the vindication my client achieved a month ago,” Barrister Sue Chrysanthou said.
Referencing a series of articles about the paper's planned appeal, Chrysanthou said: “These are not fair reports of what happened in court… setting out the allegations, doubling down that they are true. They tried to defend their articles, they lost. There’s no public interest in allowing them to continue publishing falsities."
Meanwhile, the paper is fighting to have Wigney remove himself from the case, arguing his judgement in favour of Rush had the apprehension of bias.
Its legal team has also lodged an appeal to the full Federal Court.
“I accept your honour that it is a curious situation,” The Daily Telegraph's barrister Lyndelle Barnett said.
“This is in the sense the earliest opportunity to raise it, the apprehension of bias crystalised after the judgement,” Barnett said.
The Daily Telegraph has agreed to an interim injunction stopping it from publishing allegations about Rush’s behaviour during the King Leer production.
Actress Yael Stone has previously spoken to the ABC’s 7:30 Report and the New York Times detailing her own allegations against Rush.
At the time those allegations were aired, Rush said in a statement Stone’s allegations “are incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context".
But, he added, “clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work".
"I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention. When we performed in The Diary Of A Madman eight years ago, I believe we engaged in a journey as artistic comrades.”
The case will return to court May 20.