Rebel deserved reply and apology: lawyer

27/04/2020 Posted by admin

Rebel Wilson’s lawyer has told an appeal that Bauer’s trial conduct went ‘beyond ordinary bounds’.Rebel Wilson deserved the right of reply before a magazine painted her as a serial liar, and an apology after the articles went to print, a Melbourne court has been told.

The Hollywood star sat through day two of a Court of Appeal hearing on Thursday as the publisher of Woman’s Day challenged Supreme Court of Victoria orders it must pay her $4.5 million for defamation.

In June, an all-female jury agreed with Wilson’s claims that Bauer Media, which also publishes Australian Women’s Weekly, painted the 38-year-old as a serial liar about her age, real name and childhood in order to make it in Hollywood.

Justice John Dixon ordered Bauer pay her a record $650,000 in general damages and $3,917,472 in special damages over the articles.

Bauer’s barrister Michael Wheelahan QC had argued the level of damages was “manifestly excessive”, and said Justice Dixon made an error ordering Wilson be compensated for losing film roles.

On Thursday Wilson’s $9000-a-day barrister Matthew Collins QC said publication of the articles and Bauer’s conduct during the trial went “beyond ordinary bounds” in terms of aggravating features.

He argued Wilson’s payout figure was conservative considering the Pitch Perfect actress could have taken eight different proceedings – one for each article – and been awarded much more overall.

Dr Collins said Justice Dixon found there was a campaign to “take down” the actress, and when she tried to fight back, the publisher attempted to “neutralise” her responses.

For example, Bauer made no attempt to get comment from Wilson before publishing content from a source with “an axe to grind”, Dr Collins said.

There was no subsequent apology from the publisher, he added.

Dr Collins said Justice Dixon was right in finding it was “neither here nor there” that Wilson couldn’t point to a particular job lost after the articles were published.

“This is an unusual industry. The studios create projects for hot stars and they do it quickly,” he said.

Justice David Beach argued cinema-goers still supported Wilson’s smash hit film Pitch Perfect 2 despite the articles.

“The money people in Hollywood would say it doesn’t matter what’s written in Woman’s Day,” he said.

“You’ve got this very good actress and she’s in a very good film and she’s being called a serial liar. What’s being a serial liar got to do with the film?

“That’s the link that might be missing from this case.”

But Dr Collins said Wilson was not a typical A-list Hollywood star and had built her reputation as a homegrown actress – a reputation damaged by the articles.

The parties have been given a fortnight to prepare written submissions.

The appeal may then be dismissed, or damages reassessed by either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal.

Speaking outside court before she rushed off to co–host Network Ten show The Project, Wilson said she was “really confident” the court would make “the right decision”.

Australian Associated Press

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