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Geoffrey Rush's barrister hits out at media, says actor may never work again

ABC News logo ABC News 9/11/2018 Jamelle Wells

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A Sydney court has been told actor Geoffrey Rush may never work again after stories published about him in the Daily Telegraph.

Justice Michael Wigney in the Federal Court has heard the final summing up of Mr Rush's defamation case against the newspaper for stories published in 2017.

On Friday, Mr Rush's barrister, Bruce McClintock SC, said there was a "serious problem" with Australian journalism because reporters "take sides" and "make judgments".

He said overseas papers like the New York Times present both sides of a story.

Mr McClintock said The Telegraph's stories about Mr Rush's alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a female co-star during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear have made him too scared to work, fearing someone from the audience will call out at him.

The court heard Mr Rush earned $128,000 a month before the stories were published.

Actor Geoffrey Rush's legal team is expected to submit its final closing arguments in the defamation trial against a newspaper. © AAP Images Actor Geoffrey Rush's legal team is expected to submit its final closing arguments in the defamation trial against a newspaper. Mr McClintock said there is a significant risk Mr Rush will never work again, and if he does, it will probably be more than 18 months after the judge makes a decision on the case.

"I ask your honour to award substantial damages," Mr McClintock said.

However, Tom Blackburn, the barrister for The Telegraph, noted that there were no doctor reports stating Mr Rush cannot work.

"Your honour, there is no evidence of it," he told Justice Wigney.

Mr Rush alleges that two Daily Telegraph stories and a newsagent poster have portrayed him as a pervert and sexual predator.

He denies allegations in the stories that he behaved inappropriately towards a younger female colleague — later revealed to be Eryn Jean Norvill — in the production.

The paper is standing by the defence of truth and lawyers for The Telegraph have accused Ms Norvill of lying in her evidence.

They have also argued that "inappropriate behaviour" is not as extreme as "pervert" and "sexual predator", and that most Telegraph readers would have seen a line in the stories about Mr Rush denying the allegations.

Justice Wigney told the court he will hand down his decision in early 2019.

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