21:46, May 09 42 0 theguardian.com

2019-05-09 21:46:05
Yael Stone revealed as 'witness x' in Geoffrey Rush defamation case

The “witness x” whose evidence was never heard in the Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush’s defamation battle against the Daily Telegraph is Hollywood actress Yael Stone.

The Telegraph had sought to admit Stone’s evidence towards the end of their unsuccessful two-week defamation battle against Rush in November last year.

At the time justice Michael Wigney rejected it because of the delay it would cause in the trial had the potential to cause “manifest and palpable” prejudice against Rush.

He also made orders for a suppression of Stone’s identity and the details of her claim against Rush. But before an application arguing against the suppression was due to be heard in the federal court on Friday, the parties agreed to lift the suppression on Stone’s identity.

Wigney said on Friday that “by the consent of all parties” the suppression of “the disclosure and publication of the identity of the prospective witness” had been vacated.

The details of the Orange is the New Black actor’s allegations against Rush remain suppressed.

In April, following a two-week trial last year, Wigney found in favour of Rush and ordered the newspaper’s owner, News Corp, to pay more than $850,000, with the prospect of millions more, finding the newspaper defamed him by alleging he “engaged in inappropriate behaviour” during a theatre production of King Lear.

This week the Telegraph filed an application to appeal the judgment on the basis that Wigney’s conduct during the trial “gave rise to an apprehension of bias”.

On Friday, lawyers for Rush and the Telegraph agreed for a temporary injunction against republication of some of the allegations made against Rush.

In a fiery hearing on Friday, Rush’s lawyers accused the Telegraph of engaging in a “campaign” against the court and “attacking the vindication” of the actor after his defamation win against the newspaper last month.

Rush’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, accused the newspaper of engaging in a “campaign against, with respect, the court, but with the effect of attacking the vindication my client received a month ago” since the judgement.

She accused the newspaper of “doubling down on the fact that they are true”.

“There’s no public interest in allowing them to continue spreading falsities,” she said.

An application for a permanent injunction will be heard later this month.

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