/Witness X in Geoffrey Rush defamation case revealed after court order lifted

Witness X in Geoffrey Rush defamation case revealed after court order lifted

Updated

May 10, 2019 12:50:19

Australian actor Yael Stone was the unidentified “Witness X” in a high-profile defamation case between Geoffrey Rush and The Daily Telegraph, it can now be revealed.

Key points:

  • Witness X’s name had been suppressed by a court order until now
  • The Daily Telegraph’s lawyers tried to use testimony from Stone during the trial, but it was blocked
  • In December, Stone aired allegations against Rush on the ABC’s 7.30 program

Oscar-winner Rush successfully sued the newspaper and its publisher over articles accusing him of behaving inappropriately during a Sydney Theatre Company production.

During the trial last year, the Telegraph made an application to add a new defence witness.

That witness was Stone, who is best-known for her work in the Netflix series Orange is The New Black.

Justice Michael Wigney initially ruled Stone could only be referred to as “Witness X”, but that suppression order was lifted during a hearing today.

Stone was never called because the application to amend the defence was refused.

But Stone last year made explosive allegations about Rush on the ABC’s 7.30 program, including that he exposed himself to her backstage.

She also alleged he sent her sexually suggestive messages and attempted to spy on her while she was showering.

The allegations related to her time working with Rush in 2010 and 2011.

Stone said she never complained to anyone at the time.

Rush denied the allegations saying he abhors any behaviour that might be considered harassment or intimidation.

In rejecting the application to add Stone as a witness, Justice Wigney said amending the defence so late in the trial would mean a new trial would have to be conducted.

He said that would be unfair on Rush.

The actor was awarded $850,000 in general and aggravated damages, but his final figure is likely to be much higher once loss of income is considered.

The Telegraph this week signalled its intention to appeal by arguing Justice Wigney may have appeared biased.

The newspaper relies on an argument of apprehended bias rather than actual bias.

Rush’s barrister Sue Chrystanthou today pushed for an injunction preventing the Telegraph from repeating the allegations.

She said she had not intended to raise injunctions, but the newspaper’s conduct had forced her hand.

“In the last seven days they’ve engaged in a campaign against, with respect, the court but with the effect of attacking the vindication that my client achieved a month ago by attacking the court,” Ms Chrysanthou said.

Ms Chrysanthou said there was no basis to oppose an injunction.

“They tried to defend their articles and they lost,” she said.

“There’s no public interest in allowing them to persist in publishing falsities.”

The Telegraph’s lawyer flagged an application for Justice Wigney to decide whether there is an apprehension of bias such that he should recuse himself.

He described the situation as “extremely strange”.

Topics:

law-crime-and-justice,

courts-and-trials,

information-and-communication,

print-media,

theatre,

arts-and-entertainment,

sydney-2000,

nsw

First posted

May 10, 2019 12:07:55