Defamation in the #MeToo Age

20 May 2019

In the controversial decision of Rush v Nationwide News, Justice Wigney of the Federal Court of Australia found that the Daily Telegraph‘s reporting of the Geoffrey Rush scandal was defamatory and awarded Mr Rush a substantial damages payout. Michael Daniel, Nicola Nygh, Claudia Dela Cruz and Aaron Irving discuss the implications of the decision for the law of defamation in Australia.

Over the past 18 months, defamation proceedings brought by Rebel Wilson and Geoffrey Rush have dominated Australian news headlines. The famous plaintiffs both sought to use the law of defamation to obtain compensation for the harm to their reputations caused by sensational allegations published by news organisations.

The Rush case was seen as especially controversial given the serious sexual assault allegations made against powerful men in the entertainment industry (the ‘Me Too’ movement) just prior to the Rush allegations. It inspired significant debate in the media as to the appropriateness of using the law of defamation to silence sexual assault allegations. Continue reading…