Actor Craig McLachlan drops defamation case against media outlets, co-star

Actor Craig McLachlan has dropped his defamation case against Nine newspapers, the ABC and former co-star Christie Whelan Browne.

The trial had been underway for two weeks when McLachlan, 56, and his barrister today made an application for leave to discontinue proceedings.

McLachlan was suing the ABC and Nine newspapers for publishing sexual harassment allegations from his time acting in The Rocky Horror Show musical in 2014.

Craig Mclachlan arrives at the Supreme Court on Thursday May 19.
Craig McLachlan arrives at the NSW Supreme Court for his defamation trial this week. The actor abruptly dropped the case today. (Nick Moir)

McLachlan’s legal team had spent the past two weeks calling multiple witnesses to the stand in support of his defamation claim.

Today, the first of 11 women was due to give evidence on behalf of the media outlets.

The court has ordered McLachlan to pay the legal fees of the media outlets he took to trial, estimated to be around $3 million.

The jury in the case has been discharged.

“Mr McLachlan decided not to proceed any further… It’s been brought to an end. Finished. You are no longer required,” Acting Justice Carolyn Simpson told the court.

McLachlan issued a statement where he said his decision to discontinue the case was due to the “utterly overwhelming” strain on him and his family.

“I cannot continue to place my family under that strain, and my own mental health will not withstand the continuing pressure,” the statement read.

“Ending the case now will finally bring to an end the four years we have endured since the publications were first made, as well as avoid the need for other witnesses to have to ensure the cross-examination process.

“Along the way, I have been through a criminal trial, in which I was acquitted of all charges which were brought against me, and I look forward to restoring my health and spending more time with friends and family who have stood by me through this process.”

Whelan Browne’s lawyer, Marina Olsen, read a statement on behalf of her client outside court.

“I am pleased this claim has been withdrawn and I look forward to moving on with my life,” Olsen said.

“I hope this is a reminder that women will stand up for themselves and each other, even when threatened by those more powerful.”

Tory Maguire, the executive editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, said the discontinuation of the defamation trial was “vindication of both McLachlan’s victims and our public interest journalism”.

The Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC published their investigation on Craig McLachlan during the height of the #MeToo movement,” Maguire wrote.

“McLachlan’s claim against one of his victims, Christie Whelan Browne, and the media outlets, utilising Australia’s defamation laws, has had a chilling effect on victims’ willingness to tell their stories about other abusers, and the media’s ability to report on these serious allegations.

“The victims, the media and the public’s right to know has been damaged by this case, more than any costs order can ever repay.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.