Australian actor Geoffrey Rush has been awarded a record amount of damages by an appeals court for being defamed by two publications.

In 2019, he was awarded the largest defamation payment to a single person in Australia after a court found the Daily Telegraph guilty of defaming Rush by accusing him of inappropriate behavior towards a co-star. 

In 2017, the Telegraph published an article titled ‘King Leer’ which reported that the Sydney Theatre Company had received an anonymous complaint against Rush. The article added that this complaint simply added to Rush’s pattern of inappropriate behavior.

After the article was published, Rush sued the newspaper and the article’s author Jonathon Moran. The story was also originally written without the involvement of the alleged victim who was later revealed as Rush’s King Lear co-star Eryn Norvill.

The News Corp.-owned publisher Nationwide News was originally ordered to pay Rush at least A$850,000 in damages. Although Rush was originally seeking A$25 million in damages, earlier this week the appeals court judges ruled for Rush to be awarded A$2.9 million ($2 million) in damages by the company.

The court judges rejected the publisher’s grounds for appeal in total which included asking for a retrial, a reduction in costs as well as a ruling that the paper never defamed Rush. The court also denounced the Telegraph’s remark that the damages were “manifestly excessive.”

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