Daily Telegraph lawyers make case to launch cross claim against Sydney Theatre Company as Geoffrey Rush case continues

Lawyers for The Daily Telegraph have suggested Geoffrey Rush would be the one to suffer if a bid to launch a cross claim against the Sydney Theatre Company is rejected by the Federal Court.


Alec Leopold argued in court today that if the newspaper is forced to launch separate proceedings against STC after the defamation case is concluded, the case would drag on and prolong the actor’s anguish.

Leopold spent more than two hours this morning attempting to convince Justice Michael Wigney that Daily Telegraph publisher Nationwide News should be allowed to launch a cross claim against the STC as part of the defamation proceedings.

Rush is suing the Telegraph and journalist Jonathon Moran over stories late last year amid allegations Rush engaged in “inappropriate behaviour” while appearing in a production of King Lear on a Sydney stage.

Leopold told the court that STC produced three statements which provided information relating to Rush’s alleged wrong-doing. They formed the basis for the stories which appeared soon after, under the headline ‘King Leer’.

Justice Wigney questioned why the claim of “inappropriate behaviour” should automatically refer to behaviour of a sexual nature.

“It could have been about the use of rude language,” he suggested.

Leopold said that in the eyes of the “ordinary, reasonable reader”, and by “reading between the lines” such “inappropriate behaviour” would mean behaviour of a sexual nature.

It would be the “obvious conclusion”, he said, “particularly in 2017 when there has been a #MeeToo movement”.

The hearing continues this afternoon.

Timeline of Geoffrey Rush defamation case: 

30 November: Geoffrey Rush denies ‘inappropriate behaviour’ during Sydney Theatre Company play
3 December: 
Geoffrey Rush steps down as AACTA president ahead of awards on Wednesday
7 December: Lion dominates at the AACTA Awards as producer thanks industry for calling out sexual harassment
8 December: Geoffrey Rush to sue The Daily Telegraph for defamation
18 December: Sexual harassment allegations prompt collaboration between major state theatre companies and MEAA
20 March: Federal Court rules against Daily Telegraph in Geoffrey Rush defamation hearing
27 March: Daily Telegraph seeks leave to appeal decision as Geoffrey Rush defamation battle continues
9 April: Daily Telegraph lawyers accused of treating Geoffrey Rush litigation ‘like a game’


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