The actress at the centre of Geoffrey Rush’s defamation case against The Daily Telegraph claims the Oscar winner touched her breasts and back, a court has heard.
Rush is suing the newspaper’s publisher Nationwide News and reporter Johnathan Moran over articles alleging he engaged in inappropriate behaviour while performing in a Sydney Theatre Company (STC) production.
The trial was due to start next month, but has been delayed because Eryn-Jean Norvill – the actress at the centre of The Daily Telegraph‘s allegations – has been added to the newspaper’s witness list.
Norvill was Rush’s co-star in a 2015-16 production of King Lear.
Norvill’s statement detailing Rush’s alleged inappropriate behaviour was today tendered to the Federal Court.
While it was not released publicly, the court heard it included allegations Rush touched her breasts and traced his fingers on her lower back.
Justice Michael Wigney questioned Norvill’s decision to come forward at such a late stage, “after indicating for some months she didn’t want to co-operate”.
The newspaper’s lawyer Alec Leopold SC argued Norvill was “relatively junior actor” who “would be reluctant to come out” against Rush who was a “very senior, indeed iconic, actor”.
‘They’ve been looking under stones’
Justice Wigney said when The Daily Telegraph had published the stories last year, it had “plainly not spoken to the actress” and “not secured her co-operation”.
In response, the newspaper’s lawyer, Alec Leopold SC, argued the media could operate on “hearsay” and was not bound by the same laws of evidence in a courtroom.
Rush’s lawyer Sue Chrysanthou said it was completely inappropriate for The Daily Telegraph to publish the articles without Norvill’s co-operation.
“She didn’t want the article to proceed,” Ms Chrysanthou said.
The actor’s lawyer said her client was looking forward to the trial starting.
“Now we know what they did have was rubbish,” Ms Chrysanthou said.
“They’ve been looking under stones for eight months.”
The trial is now expected to start at the end of October.