Rebel Wilson vows to appeal defamation payout cut

The ‘Pitch Perfect’ star had said that while the case was ‘never about the money’, she had hoped to receive as much as possible to give away to charity. (AFP pic)

SYDNEY: Australian actress Rebel Wilson has vowed to challenge an “absolutely flippant” Australian appeals court ruling that slashed a record US$3.5 million(RM14 million) defamation payout to her from a magazine publisher to USD$452,000(RM1.8 million).

The “Pitch Perfect” star was awarded Aus$4.5 million(RM13.4 million) in damages against Bauer Media last September over articles claiming she lied about her age and background to further her career.

It was the largest defamation win in Australian legal history and Bauer appealed, arguing the size of the settlement set a dangerous precedent and there were errors of law in the judgement.

The Victorian Court of Appeal agreed on Thursday, cutting the payout to Aus$600,000(RM1.78 million).

Tweeting from Europe, where she is filming, Wilson, 38, said the appeals court ruling included “some really bizarre things … that are so obviously challengeable”.

“Everybody knows I lost money after those maliciously defamatory articles were printed about me by @BauerMedia in 2015. The learned trial judge and Australian jury on the case who heard all the evidence clearly agreed,” she tweeted.

“But somehow the Court of Appeal have been absolutely flippant with regards to my economic loss, not to mention my overall hurt and distress at having to stand up to these bullies,” she wrote.

Wilson had previously vowed to give her entire payout to charity and lamented that the latest ruling means “less going to less fortunate Australians and leaves a billionaire corporation, proven guilty of malicious defamation, being able to get away with their seriously harmful acts for a very low pay day.”

“Clearly not fair. Come on Australia,” she concluded.

Wilson had claimed a series of articles in Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly and OK Magazine had portrayed her as a serial liar and damaged her reputation.

The Sydney-born actress told the trial she was sacked from DreamWorks animated feature films “Trolls” and “Kung Fu Panda 3” following the stories.

But the Court of Appeal said there was no basis for her to receive financial damages for the potential loss of roles.

It found that the previous judge had relied on evidence from Wilson and two Hollywood agents to draw the conclusion that she had lost job opportunities.

“The Court of Appeal held that, for a considerable number of reasons, the critical inferences drawn by the judge could not be upheld,” the summary of judgement said.

The appeal court ruling can be overturned by Australia’s High Court, if it agrees to hear the case.