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With Geoffrey Rush awarded $2.9m, one has to wonder is to come of Eryn Norvill, the actor who raised the complaint, who was similarly marked by the trial.
Back in April the gavel fell on the Daily Telegraph as Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney sided with Geoffrey Rush over the Daily Telegraph’s infamous ‘King Leer’ front page. Ostensibly, the judge in question found that the handlers of the Telegraph, Nationwide News, failed to prove that the allegations in the 2017 piece were “substantially” true.
“This was, in all circumstances a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind,” Wigney said, before adding that he thought that Eryn Jean Norvill, the actor involved in the allegations, was a witness prone to “exaggeration and embellishment,” and that he “accepted the evidence of Mr Rush. I did not accept the evidence of Ms Norvill.”
Today, we discovered the extent of the damages: $2.9 million – which represents the largest defamation payout to a single person in Australian history. Most of that payout is said to cover “special damages”, incurred by Rush’s inability to work because of the suit.
Tom Blackburn (the law representing The Daily Telegraph) told the court that these damages “extraordinary and absurd” because while the actor had “delivered his lines” over three days in the witness box, he had never told the court he had not received offers to work.
“Here’s one thing he didn’t say, that is, ‘I am unable to work because of these articles’. He just didn’t say it,” Blackburn said.
The real question, of course, is the other victim of the suit, in Rush’s accuser, Eryn Norvill. Norvill, unlike Rush, does not have the fiduciary/industry support that Rush’s stardom affords.
Early on in the process, Norvill wanted her complaint to be kept confidential, per the ABC, “…Barrister Tom Blackburn SC said Ms Norvill was a young but accomplished actor, who had been an impressive and brave witness who never embellished her answers. He said Ms Norvill did not want revenge or personal publicity and agreed to give evidence about Mr Rush because she did not want other women to be subjected to his alleged inappropriate behaviour…she wanted her complaint to be kept confidential … she didn’t want to make a formal complaint…there is absolutely nothing in these proceedings for Ms Norvill except stress and anxiety'”, Blackburn said.
Yet, at the conclusion of the matter (and not being on trial), Norvill is certainly involved, inexorably linked to the case. Clearly, the industry has distanced themselves from her allegations (as they largely went uncorroborated, bar Orange is the New Black’s Yael Stone’s similar allegations against Rush), it’s fair to say that she’ll be punished for speaking out, especially now that the ruling is final. The Telegraph can take the hit, but can Eryn Norvill?