Wolf Creek actor John Jarratt will proceed with defamation action against Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, after a jury found him not guilty of rape.
The legal action against Nationwide News was commenced in the NSW Supreme Court in November last year, pending the outcome of the 66-year-old’s trial.
On Friday, a District Court jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict.
The actor’s high-profile lawyer, Chris Murphy, announced the proceedings via Twitter.
“The civil Statement of Claim was filed pending resolution of police charges,” he said. “Documents will now be served on the defendant.
“John Jarratt v Nationwide News court mention 18th August”.
The legal action comes just months after Nationwide News was ordered to pay nearly $2.9 million to actor Geoffrey Rush for defaming him.
The Daily Telegraph published allegations claiming Mr Rush had behaved inappropriately towards a colleague during a 2015-16 Sydney Theatre Company season of King Lear.
The newspaper’s truth defence failed, following a three-week trial last year. It has since launched an appeal against the record payout.
‘I’m just so relieved’
John Jarratt stood trial in the NSW District Court after insisting extramarital sex he had with a woman in a share house in 1976 was consensual.
The woman did not complain to police until late 2017, after being put in touch with journalists.
Mr Jarratt was charged in August 2018.
He told police he first heard about the alleged rape claim, which he called a “scandalous lie”, when he read about it on the front page of the Sydney newspaper.
During the trial, Mr Jarratt described the woman’s account as “fantasy” and said she lied to the jury about their “spontaneous” but consensual encounter.
When the not guilty verdict was returned, the 66-year-old raised his hands in the air and family members began to cry in the public gallery.
Outside court, he said he was “over the moon”.
“I’m just so relieved,” he said.
“No man should have to go through what I went through.”
In a video posted to Facebook by Chris Murphy shortly after the verdict, Mr Jarratt and his wife were seen making a toast to the lawyer.
“To the godfather of law,” Mr Jarratt said.
The video was captioned, “My client was a victim. John Jarratt celebrating. A beautiful guy. A victim … 100% Innocent.”
John Jarratt’s defamation action will be next mentioned in court in August.
Nationwide News declined to comment on the defamation case.