Geoffrey Rush virtually housebound and barely eats, court told

Geoffrey Rush is virtually housebound, has lost his appetite and barely eats after the publication of articles alleging inappropriate behaviour, according to a court document.

An affidavit by the Australian actor’s solicitor, which was filed in the federal court on Monday, states that Rush has suffered “tremendous emotional and social hardship” since the publication of articles by the Daily Telegraph in 2017.

Rush, 66, is suing the Sydney newspaper and the journalist Jonathon Moran for defamation over the articles alleging he behaved inappropriately towards a colleague during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015.

The News Corp tabloid denies that the articles made Rush out to be a pervert and a predator. It submits that no allegations of a sexual nature were made.

On Monday the federal court heard lawyers for the Telegraph and Moran had applied to bring a cross-claim against the theatre company that would make it another defendant in Rush’s lawsuit.

The application says the STC provided statements relating to a complaint alleging inappropriate behaviour by Rush knowing that they would, or would probably, be republished by the Telegraph.

But Rush’s lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou, said the decision to bring the “spurious” application appeared to be a tactical one that would further delay proceedings. “The respondents are treating this litigation like a game,” Chrysanthou said.

There was no suggestion the theatre company had instigated the Telegraph’s stories alleging that Rush inappropriately touched a female co-star, she said.

Moran had phoned the STC and asked it to provide an official comment, Chrysanthou added. “The Sydney Theatre Company complied with that request and now it is being sued.”

Chrysanthou said the respondents hadn’t given an explanation as to why they were now naming a previously confidential source from the STC in an amended defence document and in the cross-claim application.

She suggested they had changed their position so they could use the source’s position to sue his employer.

But the newspaper’s lawyer, Alec Leopold SC, said Chrystanthou was making serious allegations that instructing solicitors had behaved somehow improperly in the way they dealt with the STC source’s confidentiality – without a proper basis.

He said the defence wasn’t trying to delay the proceedings.

The cross-claim application is scheduled to be heard on Friday. Justice Michael Wigney said it was likely that the trial would be heard in December. Rush denies all the allegations.

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