Entertainment People Craig McLachlan defamation case delayed for months

Craig McLachlan defamation case delayed for months

craig mclachlan
Craig McLachlan's defamation case will not be heard by a jury until at least April next year. Photo: AAP
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Craig McLachlan’s defamation case over claims the actor bullied and indecently assaulted women will not be heard by a jury until at least April next year.

The Gold Logie winner launched proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court in 2018 against Fairfax Media, the ABC and Christie Whelan Browne.

He says he was defamed in articles and reports claiming he bullied and indecently assaulted Whelan Browne and two other female cast members during a 2014 production of The Rocky Horror Show.

The case was put on ice after McLachlan was charged by Victoria Police weeks out from the proposed February 2019 trial.

The actor was found not guilty in December 2020 of seven counts of indecent assault and six of common law assault related to four women who worked with McLachlan on the The Rocky Horror Show in 2014.

His defamation case was mentioned briefly on Friday when Justice John Sackar said the hearing would not proceed this year, given it was a jury trial estimated to last four weeks.

He asked the barristers to provide dates when they would be unavailable from April, so a starting date could be set.

Lyndelle Barnett, barrister for the media companies and Whelan Browne, has also applied to further amend their defence.

McLachlan’s lawyers do not oppose the amendments save for particulars related to a new person, his lawyer Kieran Smark SC said.

Ms Barnett previously told the judge there would not be any significant amendments to the defence and the justifications defence will be pressed.

The judge adjourned the case to October 22, when the hearing date will be set and the defence issue determined.

Melbourne magistrate Belinda Wallington had accepted the evidence of the four complainants, describing them as “brave and honest witnesses”.

But she did not find McLachlan’s touching amounted to assault or indecent assault.

McLachlan, who is seeking $6.5 million in damages, became a household name for his roles on Australian soap operas Neighbours and Home and Away, and more recently led the Ballarat-filmed TV series The Doctor Blake Mysteries.