Actor Craig McLachlan has become “reclusive” and “rarely leaves home” since the ABC and Fairfax published stories accusing him of misconduct, a court has been told.
In the Supreme Court of New South Wales on Friday, the media organisations’ defence barrister Lyndelle Barnett said the preparation of their defences had been delayed, in part because more alleged victims had come forward.
Mr McLachlan claims he was defamed by articles and reports alleging sexual misconduct, harassment, bullying and indecent assault against three female cast members during a 2014 production of the Rocky Horror Show.
He commenced legal action in February, and the media companies and actress Christie Whelan Browne were ordered to file a defence by May 4.
They still have not done so and on Friday in the Supreme Court in Sydney sought to have the matter relisted in June.
Mr McLachlan’s legal team submitted an affidavit from his solicitor Mark O’Brien stating that when the actor heard that the defence wanted more time he said: “I cannot believe they still need to look for witnesses five months after ruining my life.”
The affidavit said Mr McLachlan was then too distressed to continue the conversation.
It also said Mr McLachlan had suffered severe mental anxiety and distress.
It said he “rarely leaves home” has “virtually no contact with friends, relatives or former entertainment colleagues” and that Mr McLachlan’s acting career has been “effectively destroyed”.
It said he has not received any offers of acting work since the articles were published and has lost other opportunities.
Ms Barnett said since the first hearing of Mr McLachlan’s defamation action against the ABC, Fairfax Media and Ms Browne, more alleged victims had come forward speaking about other incidents dating back to the 1990s.
She said they needed time to go through “a lot of information” and ensure they could protect any alleged victims of alleged indecent assault.
Justice Lucy McCallum said it was “alarming” and troubling to hear that the defendants were proposing to introduce the allegations, saying such evidence may go well beyond the limited scope of what was published in the articles in January.
Justice McCallum ordered that the media companies and Ms Whelan Browne to file a defence by next Thursday.
Mr McLachlan’s barrister Matthew Richardson said the media companies and Ms Whelan Browne had already had enough time to prepare their defence and asked “what on Earth” did events from the 1990s have to do with this court case.