Daily Telegraph's Geoffrey Rush Defamation Defence Removed
The Daily Telegraph has been dealt a blow as it fights a defamation lawsuit brought by actor Geoffrey Rush, with a judge striking out much of the paper's defence.
The Oscar winner is suing the Sydney newspaper and its journalist Jonathon Moran following articles alleging he behaved inappropriately to a colleague during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015.
In the Federal Court on Tuesday, lawyers for the 66-year-old were successful in their preliminary application to have all of the paper's truth defence struck out.
Rush's legal team's bid to remove part of the paper's qualified privilege defence, which is that it was reasonable to publish the article, was also accepted. Justice Michael Wigney also ruled against a bid by the defence to subpoena the Sydney Theatre Company.
A defence document from News Corp subsidiary Nationwide News alleges Rush touched co-star Eryn Jean Norvill in a way that made her feel uncomfortable on five separate occasions during the final week of the production.
Rush is also accused of following his co-star into the women's toilet and standing outside her cubicle until she told him to "f*** off" at a party to celebrate the end of the production.
The defence denies that the Telegraph articles made Rush out to be a pervert and a sexual predator, and previously told the court they made no allegations of a sexual nature.
The Telegraph can no longer seek to prove it substantially true that Rush engaged in scandalously inappropriate behaviour.