Australian comedian Rebel Wilson wins record $3.7M in damages for defamation

Wilson, who received the judgement in the middle of the night in Britain, said on social media she was "extremely grateful" for the record sum the judge had awarded he

epa06201290 (FILE) - Australian actress Rebel Wilson makes fist as she leaves the Victorian Supreme Court after winning her case, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 15 June 2017 (reissued 13 September 2017). Wilson was awarded on 13 September 2017, 650,000 Australian dollar (about 521,940 US dollar) in general damages and 3,917,472 Australian dollar (about 3.1 million US dollar) in special damages by Justice Dixon stating the damage to Wilson's reputation was 'unprecedented' and she suffered 'financial loss' as a result of the Bauer Media articles being amplified by Hollywood gossip sites.  EPA/DAVID CROSLING  AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
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Australian comedian Rebel Wilson won a $3.7 million (Dh13.5 million) in damages on Wednesday after a global 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, A$650,000 (Dh1.9m) in general damages, including aggravated damages, plus A$3,917,472 (Dh11.5m) in special damages, the highest ever for a libel case in Australia.

"The damage suffered by Miss 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.

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.


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The damages awarded were based on the judge's estimate that she had lost out on three lead or co-lead roles, each worth at least $5 million, ascribing 20 per cent of the lost earnings to Bauer Media's articles.

Wilson, who received the judgement in the middle of the night in Britain, said on social media she was "extremely grateful" for the record sum the judge had awarded her.

"Today was the end of a long and hard court battle against Bauer Media who viciously tried to take me down with a series of false articles," she said.

"To me though, this case wasn't about the money," she said, adding she plans to give away the money to help some Australian charities and the Australian film industry.

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, two legal experts said.

"Most observers of the case are surprised at the quantum of the judgement, and I would expect that it would be appealed," said Peter Bartlett, a partner at law firm Minter Ellison.