Craig McLachlan To Sue For $6.5 Million In Defamation Case
Actor Craig McLachlan is seeking special damages of $6.5 million in his defamation case against Fairfax Media and the ABC, a judge has been told.
Tom Blackburn SC, for the media companies, referred to the amount on Monday during his Supreme Court submissions about their application to amend their defence.
McLachlan is suing the companies and former co-star Christie Whelan Browne over articles and reports claiming he bullied and indecently assaulted her and two other female cast members during a 2014 production of The Rocky Horror Show.
The actor has denied the allegations and the defamation hearing is set down for four weeks from February 4.
On Friday, McLachlan's lawyer Matthew Richardson applied to have the proposed further amended defence struck out, saying three new complaints had been added relating to the actor's time on the TV show The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
He said the conduct alleged was mostly verbal, while there was one unwanted kiss and one instance of inappropriate touching.
Arguing against the application on Monday, Mr Blackburn named the women as Cate Wolfe, Anna Samson and Tamzen Hayes and a fourth woman as Teagan Wouters from another Rocky Horror production.
He said that initially when spoken to the potential witnesses said they did not want to be involved in the case but more recently indicated they were willing to give evidence in the proceedings.
Referring to Mr Richardson's submission about the prejudice caused to his client by these late amendments, Mr Blackburn said the trial was two months away.
But Justice Lucy McCallum noted there was only three weeks left of the law term this year and half a week next year before the trial started Mr Richardson said it was "completely unfair" for the actor's lawyers to have to "go back to ground zero" to investigate the claims by, for example, finding the scene and footage Ms Samson referred to and finding out who was present.
The defendants have pleaded the defences of truth and contextual truth. Meanings Fairfax has pleaded in its contextual truth defence include that McLachlan was "calculated, manipulative and a sexual predator".
Mr Richardson said "calculated" could be regarded as a compliment, "manipulative" was an excessively vague term and "sexual predator" could be anything from some kind of targeted flirting to sexual assault.
He is expected to make further applications on Wednesday.