Actor Geoffrey Rush has won his defamation case, with Justice Wigney that finding Nationwide News did not make out its truth defence:
“Geoffrey Rush has won his defamation case against a Sydney newspaper publisher and journalist over articles saying he’d been accused of inappropriate behaviour. The 67-year-old actor had sued The Daily Telegraph’s publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran over two stories and a poster published in late 2017.In Sydney’s Federal Court on Thursday, Justice Michael Wigney found Rush had been defamed.“Nationwide News and Mr Moran did not make out their truth defence,” the judge said.”
A plaintiff is said to have been defamed if a publication causes the reasonable person to think less of them: Reader’s Digest Services Pty Ltd v Lamb  HCA 4.
Truth is a defence at common law, however in order for such a defence to succeed, the defamatory matter must be true in substance and effect: Howden v ‘Truth’ & ‘Sportsman’ Ltd 1937 58 CLR 416. Therefore, the defendant must prove that the meaning of the defamatory imputations are true and accurate in all except the most minor details, they must also prove the correctness of any inference that a reasonable person may draw from the matter: Herald & Weekly Times Ltd v Popovic (2003) 9 VR 1.
Furthermore, Section 25 of the Defamation Act 2005 provides that:
The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
“Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has been awarded $850,000 in damages and will receive further damages for economic loss after he won his defamation case against Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph over reports accusing him of “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female co-star.
In a judgment summary delivered in court on Thursday, Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney said the Telegraph had failed to establish a defence of truth to its claims and he was not satisfied the events occurred “as alleged”.
“This was, in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensational journalism of the worst kind. The very worst kind,” Justice Wigney said.”
The question of whether an injunction sought by Rush and the issue of costs will be decided at a later case management hearing.
Witnesses are usually assessed according to their credibility and reliability.
In cases where there are disputes of fact, the performance of the relevant witnesses will be critical, as the case is likely to be determined according to which witnesses are believed and which are not.
This article discusses dome of the do’s and don’ts involved in giving evidence at a hearing.
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