Rebel’s mega payout

Published: 13 September 2017

The Project Rebel's payout
The Project Rebel's payout
You're watching The Project Rebel's payout We talk to Lisa Wilkinson about what Rebel Wilson's record defamtation payout will mean for the magazine business.

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Star awarded largest defamation payout in Australian history

While this photo was taken some months ago, we imagine Rebel is quite happy today as well.
Image © 2017 AAP Image/ David Crosling 
Hollywood star Rebel Wilson has been awarded a record $4.5 million payout after being defamed by the publisher of Woman's Day magazine.

A substantial amount was required to "vindicate" Wilson after her reputation as an "actress of integrity was wrongly damaged", Supreme Court Justice John Dixon said in his judgment on Wednesday.

Bauer Media published a series of eight articles in May 2015 branding Wilson as a "serial liar" who fabricated lies about her age, real name and childhood in order to make it in Hollywood.

An all-woman jury in June agreed with Wilson's claim of defamation.

The payout was split into $650,000 in general damages and $3,917,472 in special damages after the Pitch Perfect star lost the opportunity to be cast in movies following publication of the malicious articles.

The usual cap in general damages of $389,500 did not apply in Wilson's case due to Bauer Media's conduct, Justice Dixon said.

Bauer, which also publishes Australian Women's Weekly, OK! and NW magazine, failed to properly investigate allegations that Wilson was a liar, and published them, knowing they were false, he added.

Bauer repeated the "offending allegations", keeping the stories going for days even when they knew the slurs would be repeated in celebrity media, Justice Dixon said.

The publisher acted in an "orchestrated" fashion to sell more magazines and increase circulation, the judge said.

Wilson, who was seeking more than $7 million, has previously indicated she will donate the money to charity and to support young actors and the Australian film industry.

The 37-year-old is in Europe so wasn't present at Wednesday's judgment, but her lawyer Richard Leder said the payout is the largest Australian defamation damages ever awarded.

Bauer Media lawyer Adrian Goss said the publisher was considering the outcome.

"Bauer Media has a long history of delivering great stories to our readers and we have a reputation for developing some of the best editorial teams in this country. This is what we are focused on," he said in a statement.

"It is about continuing to do what we do best and that is delivering great content to more than 85 per cent of Australian women across the country via our iconic portfolio."