Hollywood actor Geoffrey Rush won a record US$2 million defamation suit in an Australian court, against Australia’s Nationwide News, a publisher owned by Rupert Murdoch. Its newspaper, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, ran stories accusing Rush of inappropriate sexual behavior toward female cast members. The actor will receive the staggering amount for lost earnings and compensation. 

The publisher had lost the multi-million dollar lawsuit, last year and had appealed against the judgement and the size of the payout. On Thursday, the court in Australia pronounced its judgement in Rush’s favor. The Oscar-winning actor will receive the US$2 million payout, the largest ever awarded to a single person in Australia. 

In a front-page article published in 2017, the Daily Telegraph wrote that the Sydney Theatre Company received a complaint that Rush had inappropriately touched a female co-star during a staging of “King Lear”. It ran a front-page story with the headline ‘King Leer’, detailing the accusations against Rush. A Sydney judge had described the content as a “recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism”, AFP reported. 

Australia has one of the strictest defamation laws, that puts the onus on the person who makes the allegations, to prove that they are true, unlike in other countries where the onus is on the accused.

The actor won the Best Actor Academy Award in 1997 for his role in “Shine” and is one of the few stars to have also won a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Tony Award.