Geoffrey Rush legal team accuses The Daily Telegraph of ‘irresponsible journalism’ in defamation case
Geoffrey Rush arriving in court on Thursday, flanked by some of his legal team. (AAP: Peter Rae)
The barrister acting for Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush in a defamation case against The Daily Telegraph says the stories about his client are an example of “cruel” and “reckless journalism”.
- Defamation trial involving Rush and Daily Telegraph reaching final days
- In final submissions, Rush’s legal team accused newspaper of “smashing and ruining” actor’s life
- Rush’s lawyers said actress at centre of sexual misconduct claims was lying
As the three-week defamation trial reaches its final days, Mr Rush’s legal team on Thursday issued its final statements before Justice Michael Wigney in the Federal Court in Sydney.
Barrister Bruce McClintock said stories about Mr Rush’s conduct towards a female co-star — later identified as Eryn Jean Norvill — during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear had no evidence to support them.
He said the stories were are an example of “power without responsibility”.
“This is the most recklessly irresponsible journalism that has come before a court in this country,” Mr McClintock said.
The Daily Telegraph story at the centre of the defamation case.
(Supplied: Federal Court of Australia)
“Does The Daily Telegraph care about people whose lives it smashes and ruins?
“Clearly it does not.”
Barrister Sue Chrysanthou, Mr McClintock’s senior counsel, said Mr Rush’s co-star, Ms Norvill, was “not a baby” and was “in her 30s” during the show’s run.
She said the allegations that he harassed her needed to be weighed up with common sense.
Ms Chrysanthou recapped Ms Norvill’s evidence, describing how she said other people saw Mr Rush make lewd gestures towards her and touch her inappropriately.
The barrister said it did not make sense.
Ms Chrysanthou said the witnesses who did give evidence, such as the show’s director Neil Armfield and senior cast members such as Robin Nevin and Helen Buday, had nothing bad to say about Mr Rush.
She said they all testified that if they had seen the actor engaging in inappropriate behaviour towards Ms Norvill during the show, they would have put a stop to it.
Actor Eryn Jean Norvill has given evidence that Geoffrey Rush allegedly touched her breast during a performance. (AAP Image/Petter Rae)
“She told a lot of lies to your honour,” she said. “To be a good liar you have to have a good memory.
“The case appears to be on some of these matters that the older people saw it and thought nothing of it.
“That suggestion makes no sense.”
Ms Chrysanthou said the one younger cast member who did give evidence, Mark Winter, was trying to recall events that took place three years ago.
She said he testified that he was not troubled enough by Mr Rush’s behaviour towards Ms Norvill to speak to anyone about it.
The trial is expected to finish tomorrow.