Sydney Theatre Company did nothing for 18 months after an actress had an off-the-record conversation in a bar claiming colleague Geoffrey Rush had behaved inappropriately towards her, a judge has been told.
It didn’t investigate or take any other action until STC executive director Patrick McIntyre was approached by a reporter one-and-a-half years later, Rush’s lawyer Sue Chrysanthou said on Wednesday.
She was opposing an application by the STC to set aside parts of a subpoena issued by the actor’s legal team in his Federal Court defamation lawsuit against The Daily Telegraph and reporter Jonathon Moran.
Rush is suing over November 2017 articles about allegations he behaved inappropriately toward fellow cast member Eryn Jean Norvill, who played Cordelia in the STC production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.
The 67-year-old actor says the articles’ defamatory meanings include a suggestion his alleged misconduct was so serious that the STC changed its human resources policy and resolved never to work with him again.
But Ms Chrysanthou said the source of this claim was Mr McIntyre, who made an off-the-record and not-to-be-attributed comment to Moran in November 2017 but told him he could publish it.
No documents about this STC decision had been produced and Rush’s legal team believe the statement was false and “there was never any such decision”.
Further, no documents had been produced showing Norvill made a formal complaint to the STC.
“The only thing was a conversation between Eryn Norvill and two people from the STC in a bar in April 2016,” she said.
An email dated April 6, 2016 had been produced about the conversation but there was “nothing whatsoever” to show any response by Mr McIntyre.
“As far as we can see, Mr McIntyre did nothing,” she said.
No investigation was held, no formal reporting of the complaint was made and Rush was not consulted.
“All we have from Mr McIntyre is one-and-a-half years later after Mr McIntyre has received queries from the media.”
Justice Michael Wigney rejected the STC’s contention that some parts of the subpoena, including documents relating to the company’s human resources policies, would be irrelevant to the case.