Actor Rebel Wilson wins €3m over ‘career damaging’ defamation
Judge says false claims about background of ‘Pitch Perfect’ comedian cost her roles
Australian comedian Rebel Wilson has won AU$4.6 million (€3.08million) in damages after an international magazine publisher was found to have defamed her in a string of articles. File photograph: David Crosling/EPA.
Australian actor and comedian Rebel Wilson on Wednesday won AU$4.6 million (€3.08million) in damages after an international magazine publisher was found to have defamed her in a string of articles which led to her losing out on Hollywood movie roles.
The Supreme Court of Victoria ordered Bauer Media to pay Sydney-born Wilson, best known for her roles in the Pitch Perfect films, AU$650,000 in general damages, including aggravated damages, plus more than AU$3.9m in special damages, the highest ever for a libel case in Australia.
“The damage suffered by Ms Wilson warrants a substantial damages award to vindicate her and nail the lie,” Justice John Dixon said, reading out a summary of his judgement.
He said aggravated damages were justified due to Bauer Media’s “unprecedented” global reach and its decision to run a string of articles which claimed Wilson had lied about her age, real name and some childhood events, even after it knew the allegations were false.
“The allegations were based on information from a source who required payment and anonymity and whom the editor considered had an axe to grind,” Dixon said.
Story kept ‘alive’
He said Bauer Media had “kept the story alive for days” for its own profit, knowing the allegations in its Woman’s Day magazine would be picked up by other entertainment media worldwide, and as a result, Wilson missed out on a number of film roles.
Wilson, who was in Britain, said on social media: “Am going through the full judgement in my defamation case with my lawyers and will make a statement later in the day.”
Bauer Media said in a statement on its website it was considering the judgement.
The previous record for damages in a defamation case in Australia was A$2.3 million, said Peter Bartlett, a partner at law firm Minter Ellison.
“Most observers of the case are surprised at the quantum of the judgement, and I would expect that it would be appealed,” Bartlett said.