HOLLYWOOD star Rebel Wilson has been awarded Australia’s highest ever defamation payout — more than $4.5 million — after her successful legal battle against Bauer Media.
Supreme Court judge Justice John Dixon said the extent of Wilson’s defamation was “unprecedented” in this country and warranted substantial damages.
Her lawyers told the court that before the trial Wilson had offered to settle for $200,000 over a series of defamatory articles in published in Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, New Weekly and OK!
Am going through the full judgement in my defamation case with my lawyers and will make a statement later in the day. It’s 3am here in 🇬🇧 x
— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) September 13, 2017
The jury found the articles unfairly painted her as a serial liar who had faked her way to a Hollywood career.
Justice Dixon was scathing of Bauer’s “campaign” against Rebel to pursue its own corporate objectives.
It is the highest defamation payout in Australian legal history.
Wilson was not in court to hear the judgment, but said on Twitter that she would make a statement later in the day.
Bauer General Counsel Adrian Goss said his client was considering the judgement.
“Bauer media has a long history of delivering great stories to our readers and we have a reputation for developing some of the best editorial teams in this country,” Mr Goss said.
“This is what we are focused on. it is about continuing to do what we do best and that is delivering great content.”
Wilson, 37, had claimed more than $7 million in damages after a jury found she was maliciously defamed by four Bauer publications.
She has vowed to donate any damages awarded to her to charity.
“Any $’s (sic) I receive will go to charity, scholarships or invested into the Aussie film industry to provide jobs,” she said after the jury returned their verdict.
“I take being a role model very seriously x.”
Wilson claimed she was sacked from two films — Trolls and Kung Fu Panda 3 — and unable to land any more work due to the articles.
Wilson said she had wanted to stand up to “bullies” Bauer Media and their publications.
“Far too often I feel that their conduct can only be described as disgusting and as disgraceful,” Wilson said after the trial.
“I’m glad, very glad, that the jury has agreed with me. And by the unanimous and overwhelming verdict, they have sent a very clear message.
“It really saddened me that a lot of people believed these articles. It’s good now that the records set straight and that the stain has disappeared.
“Hopefully my career will go from strength to strength from now on.”
Dr Matthew Collins, QC, for Wilson, argued her $7 million damages claim was particularly conservative.
“A star like Rebel Wilson … a multimillion-dollar actress … could reasonably expect not to have had the hiatus in her career that the evidence establishes she had,” he said.
Wilson revealed during the trial that she was related to Walt Disney.
She said she enjoyed private access to Disneyland as a child, and is now part of a members-only secret club at the Californian theme park.
“Most people wouldn’t know it exists,” she said. She said she had always been told her great-aunt was the same Lilian Bounds who married the legendary cartoonist.
Her family later changed the spelling of their surname, she said.
Originally published as Rebel’s mega payout revealed