Tes­ti­mony against Rush ‘ridicu­lous’

The Australian - - THE NATION - ROSE­MARY NEILL

A bar­ris­ter yes­ter­day com­pared an ac­tress’s tes­ti­mony that Ge­of­frey Rush reg­u­larly made lewd ges­tures to­wards her and called her “scrump­tious’’ and “yummy’’ dur­ing a King Lear pro­duc­tion with “a ridicu­lous silent film”.

Sue Chrysan­thou, a bar­ris­ter ap­pear­ing for Rush in his defama­tion bat­tle with Syd­ney’s The Daily Tele­graph, chal­lenged and mocked the tes­ti­mony of Eryn Jean Norvill, Rush’s co-star and the news­pa­per’s key wit­ness in the defama­tion case.

“Lick­ing his lips, rais­ing his eye­brows, bulging out his eyes and growl­ing, mak­ing hour­glass shapes with his hands, say­ing ‘scrump­tious’ and ‘yummy’. It sounds like a ridicu­lous silent film,’’ Ms Chrysan­thou said.

One of two bar­ris­ters mak­ing clos­ing state­ments for Rush, she said the in­ci­dent was “one of many lies’’ told by Norvill.

She urged the trial judge, Michael Wigney, to “nail these lies’’.

She said Norvill’s ev­i­dence “has to be con­sid­ered against the sea of ab­sent wit­nesses (of­fer­ing cor­rob­o­rat­ing ev­i­dence)’’.

Norvill, who starred in a 2015-16 pro­duc­tion with Rush, is at the cen­tre of the defama­tion case the ac­tor has brought against The Daily Tele­graph.

She has tes­ti­fied that dur­ing the Syd­ney The­atre Com­pany show, Rush “de­lib­er­ately” touched her breast dur­ing a pre­view per­for­mance, leav­ing her feel­ing “trapped” and “fright­ened”.

She al­leged that Rush touched the skin of her lower back, reg­u­larly made breast grop­ing and “hour­glass’’ ges­tures to­wards her and called her “scrump­tious” and “yummy” as they worked to­gether.

Ms Chrysan­thou said an­other in­ci­dent in which Rush al­legedly per­formed a comic skit over Norvill’s torso that ended in a breast-grop­ing ges­ture and a rep­ri­mand from the di­rec­tor, Neil Arm­field, did not oc­cur.

“The en­tire scene . . . did not hap­pen,’’ she said.

Cast mem­ber Mark Win­ter has tes­ti­fied that he saw Rush per­form the skit, which ended in a “boob-squeez­ing” ges­ture, and that he saw Rush touch Norvill’s left breast dur­ing the pre­view. (Norvill said it was her right breast that was touched.)

The Daily Tele­graph’s se­nior coun­sel, Tom Black­burn SC, has de­scribed Norvill as an “ut­terly hon­est” wit­ness who “wanted her com­plaint to be kept con­fi­den­tial . . . There is noth­ing in these pro­ceed­ings for Ms Norvill ex­cept for stress and anx­i­ety.’’

Rush stren­u­ously de­nies any wrong­do­ing.

Arm­field and two cast mem­bers have given ev­i­dence he did not be­have in­ap­pro­pri­ately dur­ing the pro­duc­tion.

Rush said the news­pa­per’s ar­ti­cles falsely painted him as a “per­vert” and “sex­ual preda­tor”.

Ear­lier, Rush’s se­nior coun­sel, Bruce McClin­tock, said the ar­ti­cles about Rush were “the most reck­lessly ir­re­spon­si­ble jour­nal­ism that has come be­fore . . . a court in this coun­try’’.

The trial is ex­pected to fin­ish to­day.

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