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Rebel Wilson back in court over record defamation payment

A publisher is appealing after the Australian actress was awarded the equivalent of £2.5 million.

Rebel Wilson has returned to court to fight a magazine publisher’s appeal against an order to pay the Australian actress a record 4.6 million Australian dollars (£2.5 million) in damages for defamation.

The award was made over articles claiming she lied about her age, the origin of her first name and her upbringing in Sydney.

The 38-year-old comic, best known for the movies Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids, sat with her mother Sue Bownds in a packed Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal in Melbourne but did not give evidence.

Rebel Wilson attending the European premiere of How To Be Single (Ian West/PA)

Bauer Media, which publishes Australian magazines Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, NW and OK, argued that the largest defamation payout in Australia legal history awarded against the German company in September was “manifestly excessive”.

Bauer’s lawyer, Michael Wheelahan, said the publisher would not appeal against the defamation verdict reached by a jury in July.

Bauer is challenging the finding that Wilson should be compensated for film roles, including Trolls and Kung Fu Panda 3, which she claimed she had lost following the publications in 2015.

(Bauer) maliciously defamed me and I'm here to hold them accountable for that Rebel Wilson

Mr Wheelahan argued Wilson’s career earnings had been on an upward trajectory in 2015 with a few “speed bumps” along the way, but there was no evidence that the articles had any influence.

He argued that Hollywood agent Peter Principato, an industry person “on the grapevine”, had not heard of the defamatory articles at the time.

Speaking outside court, Wilson said Hollywood had been well aware of her case.

Bauer “maliciously defamed me and I’m here to hold them accountable for that”, she said.

The hearing before three judges is to continue on Thursday.

Before the trial, Bauer rejected Wilson’s offer to settle the case for 200,000 Australian dollars (£109,185).

Press Association

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