International cricketer Chris Gayle has been awarded $300,000 in damages for being defamed in articles that claimed he exposed himself to a female massage therapist in Sydney in 2015.
The damages judgement came more than a year after a jury found in favour of Gayle, who sued Fairfax Media over the articles published in newspapers and online in 2016.
The cricketer was not in the NSW Supreme Court to hear the judgement.
In her reasons, Justice Lucy McCallum accepted that Gayle was hurt by the publication of the articles and that “the imputations had particular resonance in cricketing circles, among fans, coaches, officials and players”.
“The evidence on hurt feelings was surprisingly compelling,” she said.
Justice McCallum was satisfied that the articles had been read very widely and said the allegation “gained some currency around the world”.
In his evidence to the court, Gayle said the story had gone viral, an assertion Justice McCallum accepted.
“Having regard to his high profile and popularity as an international cricketer, the nature of the allegation and the fascination of humankind with all things salacious, particularly in relation to people of some celebrity, I accept that it probably did,” she said.
The jury found that the articles were prompted by malice, however Justice McCallum said she disregarded the defendants’ malice in her assessment of damages.
Fairfax said it would immediately launch an appeal.
“Fairfax remains concerned with the conduct of the trial,” a spokesperson for the publisher said.
“The jury was misled in a way that prejudiced Fairfax, and Fairfax did not get a fair trial.”
The spokesperson said the damages awarded to Gayle confirmed the “appalling burden of defamation laws” in Australia.
Chris Gayle’s spokesman, Grant Vandenberg, said Gayle was “vindicated today by the judge, he’s already been vindicated by the jury”.
“All he wants to do is play cricket and he’d really, really love to come back to Australia – a country that he loves as much as anywhere – and play in the Big Bash.”