SYDNEY • News Corp's Australian arm is appealing against a judgment awarding Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush at least A$850,000 (S$810,000) in defamation damages over articles saying he behaved inappropriately towards a co-star in a production of King Lear.
The Federal Court ruled last month that News Corp's Daily Telegraph tabloid in Sydney failed to prove the stories were true.
"The Daily Telegraph is appealing the Rush decision," News spokesman Campbell Reid said in an e-mail yesterday.
The newspaper said in a report yesterday that there were 16 grounds for its appeal and that Justice Michael Wigney's conduct of the case "gave rise to an apprehension of bias".
Under the headline King Leer and in later articles, the paper said Rush, playing the title role of a 2015 Sydney Theatre Company production of the Shakespeare play, was accused by a co-star of unspecified inappropriate conduct.
Rush, 67, said the articles were hastily compiled because the Telegraph wanted an Australian angle on accusations of sexual assault levelled at American film producer Harvey Weinstein.
The actor, who won an Oscar in 1997 for his lead role in Shine and has since appeared in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films, said the stories implied he was a "major pervert" or guilty of major depravity.
In handing down his decision, the judge called the stories "recklessly irresponsible" and "sensationalist journalism of the worst kind, the very worst kind".
The court awarded at least A$850,000 in preliminary damages and will later determine further damages for economic harm, such as Rush's loss of movie roles and the impact on his career.