'Recklessly Irresponsible': Rush Barristers Slam Newspaper As Judge Calls Headline 'A Bad Pun'
It was meant to be the final act, but Geoffrey Rush’s defamation trial will now stretch into a fifteenth day.
The actor’s lawyers came out swigging on Thursday as they made their closing arguments calling a newspaper reckless, and its star witness a liar.
Barrister Bruce McClintock SC didn’t hold back.
“This is the most recklessly irresponsible journalism that has come before a court in this country” he told the court, before his offsider Barrister Sue Chrysanthou launched an attack on actress Eryn-Jean Norvill.
“Her evidence has to be considered against the sea of absent witnesses.” Chrysanthou said.
She accused the 34-year-old of repeatedly lying and the Daily Telegraph’s lawyers of failing to corroborate Norvill’s version of events.
“It sounds like a ridiculous silent film...” Chrysanthou began.
“Expect we wouldn't hear scrumptious and yummy...” Judge Michael Wigney interrupted.
“... or the growling. Imagine Mr Rush behaving like this on a daily basis, how is it possible... that not one person saw it,” Chrysanthou continued.
The actor denies making groping gestures or crude jokes in Novill’s direction during rehearsals.
Rush also denies touching the actresses's breast on stage or stroking her bare lower back while the pair were waiting in the wings.
The Daily Telegraph’s barrister says the articles were carefully written to emphasise the actor’s denials.
Justice Wigney conceded that argument might have had weight had it not been for the headlines “King Leer” and “Star’s Bad Behaviour”.
“Sub-editors can’t help themselves with their bad puns… they’re very large puffs of smoke suggesting there’s a fire there underneath,” the judge said.
Tom Blackburn SC argued the articles didn’t necessarily paint Rush as a pervert or predator.
“Inappropriate behaviour can be bullying, racist conduct, discriminatory conduct -- no ordinary reader would jump to sexual,” he said.
The trial is expected to run into the evening and possibly into tomorrow as final arguments are made.