Actor Geoffrey Rush has been awarded damages of A$850,000 (£465,000) after a court ruled a Sydney newspaper publisher defamed him by saying he behaved inappropriately towards a co-star in a production of King Lear.
A judge found News Corp’s Nationwide and reporter Jonathon Moran’s articles in the Daily Telegraph had failed to prove their allegations were true.
Judge Michael Wigney called what happened “a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the worst kind” in a decision read to a packed courtroom in Sydney.
Daily Telegraph editor Ben English said it was disappointed with the decision and would review the judgment.
The 67-year-old Oscar-winning Australian actor sued the tabloid over a series of articles that said he was the subject of a complaint to the Sydney Theatre Company regarding the 2015 King Lear production, in which he played the lead role.
Under the headline “KING LEER,” and in later articles, the paper said the actor had been accused by a co-star of unspecified inappropriate conduct.
Rush said the stories implied he was a pervert, or guilty of major depravity, and his lawyer sought “very substantial” damages.
Last October, he told a judge his “blood ran cold” after seeing allegations published by the newspaper.
“There are no winners in this case,” Rush told reporters outside court. “It’s been extremely distressing for everyone involved.”
He thanked his wife and children for their support “during this harrowing time”.
The court will determine further damages at a later date.
Rush won an Academy Award for his role in 1996 film Shine.
He was nominated for his roles in Shakespeare In Love, Quills and The King’s Speech, and is also famed for his portrayal of Captain Barbossa in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films.