Rebel Wilson has been awarded more than $4.5 million in damages, after a court ruled a series of articles published by Bauer Media that portrayed her as a serial liar were defamatory.
The Australian actress was seeking $7 million after she successfully sued the Woman’s Day publisher over eight articles, which she described in court earlier this year as a “malicious, deliberate take-down” of her.
The court heard 37-year-old Wilson, currently in the United Kingdom and not present in court, offered during pre-trial mediation to settle the case for $200,000.
The defamation payout is the largest in Australian legal history, Wilson’s lawyer confirmed.
Shortly after the judgement was delivered, Wilson took to Twitter to make a brief statement.
“Am going through the full judgement in my defamation case with my lawyers and will make a statement later in the day. It’s 3am here in [the UK],” she wrote.
The articles, published in May 2015, claimed Wilson fabricated lies about her age, real name and childhood in order to make it in Hollywood.
An all-female jury in June agreed with Wilson’s claim of defamation.
Am going through the full judgement in my defamation case with my lawyers and will make a statement later in the day. It's 3am here in 🇬🇧 x
— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) September 13, 2017
In awarding the damages, Supreme Court Justice John Dixon described the extent of the defamation as “unprecedented in this country” because of the articles’ global reach.
Justice Dixon said a substantial amount was required to “vindicate” Wilson after her reputation as an “actress of integrity was wrongly damaged”.
“At trial and in the full media glare, Bauer Media tried to characterise its article as true, or as trivial, or as not likely to be taken seriously,” he said.
“Substantial vindication can only be achieved by an award of damages that underscores that Ms Wilson’s reputation as an actress of integrity was wrongly damaged in a manner that affected her marketability in a huge worldwide marketplace.”
The usual cap in general damages of $389,500 did not apply in Wilson’s case due to Bauer Media’s conduct, Justice Dixon said.
Bauer Media lawyer Adrian Goss said the publisher was considering the outcome.
“Bauer Media has a long history of delivering great stories to our readers and we have a reputation for developing some of the best editorial teams in this country. This is what we are focused on,” he said in a statement.
“It is about continuing to do what we do best and that is delivering great content to more than 85 per cent of Australian women across the country via our iconic portfolio.”
The actress sought $5.89 million in special damages and $1.2 million in general damages, which she promised to donate to charities or local causes.
“Any dollars I receive will go to charity, scholarships or invested into the Aussie film industry to provide jobs,” Wilson tweeted at the time.
“I take being a role model very seriously.”
– with ABC, AAP