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Jury sides with Rebel Wilson finding she was defamed by Bauer Media

15 June 2017 5:49 AM
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Jury sides with Rebel Wilson finding she was defamed by Bauer Media

The all-female jury of six today returned unanimous verdicts in favour of Wilson.

The Hollywood star, 37, sat in court every day of the three week trial.

For six days she stood in the witness box giving evidence that her life had been ruined by the eight articles over which she launched her lawsuit.

She cried, rapped, told jokes, did impersonations and submitted herself to gruelling cross-examination.

Her mum followed, as did her siblings, celebrity agents, and friends, including Logie award winner Hugh Sheridan.

It was the most bizarre of trials to come before the Victorian Supreme Court in years.

Outside court fans pounced on her almost daily, begging for selfies or grabbing autographs.

Inside court a flower-carrying stalker sparked a security alert, prompting the actor to hire a bodyguard that duly stayed by her side.

Fans packed court almost daily, with standing room only for at least the first 15 days of the trial.

International media followed the case closely, with celebrity blogger Perez Hilton frequently expressing his opinion on Twitter.

Locally radio personalities Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek orchestrated a support rally on the steps of the court.

They are things that would never happen during a normal trial by jury.

But there was little normal about this case in which Wilson was the leading lady in her own courtroom drama.

David Letterman, Matt Lucas and Walt Disney had guest roles. There were cameos too, by Matt Damon, Melissa McCarthy, Kirsten Dunst, Melissa George, Anna Kendrick and Isla Fisher.

Also read: Rebel Wilson seeks $7m in special damages over Bauer Media defamation

They were asked to decide whether Wilson was a serial liar who invented fantastical stories to make it in Hollywood.

Or, as she claimed, was the victim of tall poppy syndrome and a cruel campaign to bring her down.

To reach their verdict they were given 13 pages of questions to work through.

Among the questions the jury needed to answer was whether Wilson lied about her age, name and upbringing.

They listened to more than a dozen local and international witnesses including agent to the stars Sharon Jackson live from Hollywood.

She gave evidence that after the May 2015 articles were published, Wilson’s career suffered a staggering blow.

At the time the articles were published Wilson’s global smash Pitch Perfect 2 had just been released.

Also read: Rebel Wilson could make millions after her court win

She should have been commanding at least $5 million a movie, Ms Jackson said, but instead she couldn’t land a job.

“I just thought that she would be getting offers at that point. It was a real mystery.

“The way Hollywood works is no one ever says no, it would just more be like, we’re not there yet.”

Clips from her hit movies were played, an interview with David Letterman had everyone in the court chuckling, and an entire episode of Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery was shown for the jury’s benefit.

Home movies, a nostalgic wander through family photo albums and clips from her days on Australian TV, too.

Rebel told the jury how she was related to Walt Disney, by marriage, and had private use of Disneyland as a child.

Now she is part of a members-only secret club at the Californian theme park.

She pays $60,000 for membership but told the court her relationship to Disney had a part to play in being signed up.

The actor said despite no evidence to support the claim, she had always been told her great-aunt Lillian married the legendary animator and producer.

“It is just something I’ve always known. It is like knowing who your parents are,” she said.

Disney played a central role in the case, with Bauer using her claimed link to Uncle Walt as an example of Wilson’s misleading stories.

Also read: Girlfriend found guilty of manslaughter in US texting suicide trial

Sending the jury off to deliberate Justice John Dixon said told them to keep one simple question in mind: is the star a serial liar?

In order to win the case, Wilson had to have convinced the jury that the series of articles published by Bauer painted her as a serial liar.

The law presumed Wilson had a good reputation, and she needed to prove that it had been defamed, he said.

Closing his case on behalf of Wilson Dr Matthew Collins, QC, said there wasn’t a single shred of evidence that Wilson had ever lied.

“Why was Bauer Media, with all of its worldwide resources, unable to identify a single person anywhere in the world to whom the supposed lie had been said — a friend, a former friend, a colleague, an agent, a producer, a publicist, a member of the public, anyone?” he said.

“This proceeding has been reported in the press every day over the past three weeks. Why hasn’t someone come out of the woodwork to corroborate this allegation that Rebel Wilson is a liar?

“The reason why they came up with nothing, of course, is obvious. Rebel Wilson has not lied.”

Dr Collins said Wilson took the legal action to stand up to Bauer’s toxic style of journalism.

“She doesn’t say that these articles are the worst thing that have ever happened in her life and that you should all feel sorry for her,” he said.

“She says that she is not a serial liar, as alleged by this defendant, and she seeks your verdict to tell that to the world, to tell the world that what this defendant did to her was wrong.

Bauer Media released a statement this afternoon saying they will consider their options following today’s verdict.

Also read: Ministers partially retract criticism of Victorian judiciary over terrorism cases

Source: heraldsun.com.au

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