I wonder if Rebel's legal team have created a template to prove defamation by media?
Interesting Herald Sun article:
How Rebel Wilson proved she’s not a ‘serial liar’ and won her case
Shannon Deery, Herald Sun
REBEL Wilson’s emphatic defamation victory against Bauer Media left many people asking one question: how did she do it?
Her epic take-down of what she dubbed a “toxic” culture of journalism at Bauer’s various magazines was yesterday being applauded by a raft of celebrities including Russell Crowe, Shane Warne and Lleyton Hewitt.
But still people were asking how she won.
When Woman’s Day published the May 2015 “expose” that sparked Wilson’s lawsuit it claimed to blow the lid on a string of secret details about her.
Until then she had been known internationally as Rebel Wilson, a breakout Hollywood star from the Australian burbs, people believed was about 29.
In fact, Woman’s Day told us, she was Melanie Bownds, she was 36, and she didn’t grow up in a ghetto. True, true and true.
So how did Rebel win?
Her claim was simple: she was the victim of tall poppy syndrome and a cruel campaign by Bauer to bring her down.
All Rebel had to do was convince the jury this was true.
The eight articles Wilson sued over were published in Bauer magazines Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, OK! Magazine and New Weekly.
But it was the first Woman’s Day article that dominated her case, with her claim that its imputation she was a serial liar had sullied her name in Hollywood.
When she should have been commanding at least $5 million a film, she couldn’t get a job.
She was sacked from two major Hollywood films in the fallout of that first article, and had since struggled to land any significant work.
The article, and seven that followed, was malicious, aimed to hurt and humiliate her and had negatively impacted her career, she said.
Rebel Wilson speaks to the media after win. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
The jury’s job, as Wilson’s lawyer Matthew Collins, QC, told them, was to determine what the average reader would have made of that article, and the seven that followed.
“Your job is to decide what is this article really saying to ordinary reasonable readers of the Woman’s Day?” he said in closing her case.
“We say obviously, respectfully beyond argument, it’s saying that Rebel Wilson is a serial liar; she portrays herself one way, she tells these outlandish stories about the life she leads, but the truth is very different.
“Someone who tells one thing when the truth is another is a liar.
‘Someone who does it so many times, as alleged in this article…is a serial liar, and that is how ordinary people, we submit to you, will have understood this article.”
There were nine matters Bauer Media and Shari Nementzik, the author of the article, accused Rebel of lying about.
But when it came to trial, Bauer did not suggest Wilson had lied about six of them.
They argued only that she’d lied about her age, name and upbringing.
She told the jury her real name was always meant to be Rebel Wilson, until her mum buckled to family pressure, she’d stopped disclosing her age to journalists years ago, and her claims she grew up in the ghetto were purely comedic.
When the jury retired to deliberate on Wednesday morning they were armed with a 13-page document of eight questions to which they simply had to answer yes, or no.
They were asked to assess each of the articles, and whether they had defamed Wilson in the way she claimed.
They weren’t asked to rule specifically on her claims versus those made by Bauer.
But by their verdict they had to have accepted Wilson as a truthful witness.
She didn’t need to prove her link to Walt Disney. That unsubstantiated claim remains unproven.
She didn’t need to prove she decided to pursue an acting career after hallucinating an Oscar speech while ill in Africa.
She simply had to prove she was an honest person who had been ruined by lies.
“Why was Bauer Media, with all of its worldwide resources, unable to identify a single person anywhere in the world to whom the supposed lie had been said - a friend, a former friend, a colleague, an agent, a producer, a publicist, a member of the public, anyone?” Dr Collins asked the jury.
“This proceeding has been reported in the press every day over the past three weeks. Why hasn’t someone come out of the woodwork to corroborate this allegation that Rebel Wilson is a liar?
“The reason why they came up with nothing, of course, is obvious. Rebel Wilson has not lied.”
Dr Collins said the jury had a chance to send a message to the magazine injury that its practices were unacceptable.
It was never ok to publish articles based on the claims of a single anonymous source with an axe to grind.
That it was not ok to quote selectively from other newspapers and to pass it off as research, or to fail to offer a right of reply.
“And to send a message that it is not all right, when you know you have no defence, to dig in and refuse to correct and apologise and to bully and intimidate in the courtroom and to make wild accusations of perjury against the plaintiff and her family,” he said.
“We urge you to send a message to Bauer Media. Hold them accountable.”
The jury took their chance.