Daily Telegraph lawyers accused of treating Geoffrey Rush litigation ‘like a game’

Lawyers for Geoffrey Rush have branded The Daily Telegraph’s plan to launch a cross-claim against Sydney Theatre Company as “spurious” as the actor’s defamation case against the publication returned to court today.

Sue Chrysanthou accused lawyers for Nationwide News and journalist Jonathon Moran of “treating this litigation like a game” while her client suffers “devastating and significant effect” of stories which accused Rush of “inappropriate behaviour” on a Sydney stage.

She said the cross claim against the theatre company was simply designed to delay the proceedings.

Despite pressing the court for an earlier hearing – August had been sought – justice Michael Wigney said any trial was now likely to be held in the first two weeks of December, partly a result of his and the court’s limited availability.

Chrysanthou objected to the cross-claim against the STC and suggested the decision to bring the claim at a late stage in the proceedings was “tactical”.

After initially deciding not to file a cross claim, lawyers for The Daily Telegraph have now changed their position which will result in a substantial delay, she said.

“This cross claim is very unusual indeed and is ultimately doomed to fail,” Chrysanthou told the court. “We have a journalist ringing a person and asking for information for a story. There is no suggestion in this cross claim that the STC instigated the story.

“The first contact is Mr Moran telephoning the STC and asking them to provide a comment. The STC complied with that request and now it is being sued.”

It also emerged that the Daily Telegrpah intends to name a “confidential source” in its defence.

Alec Leopold, acting for The Daily Telegraph dismissed the criticisms arguing such claims of “serious professional misconduct against my instructing solicitors” are without basis.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday with a further hearing scheduled for Friday.


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