National News

Rebel to help charity after $4.5m payout

Actress Rebel Wilson says she will use her record $4.5 million defamation payout to help Australian charities and the film industry.

On Wednesday the Hollywood star was awarded the highest defamation payout in Australia's history after the publishers of Woman's Day magazine published articles depicting her as a liar.

"I'm looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I've received," the 37-year-old tweeted from London.

"To me though, this case wasn't about the money," she said in a series of Tweets.

The star said she was looking forward to getting back to her career and "entertaining everyone".

A substantial amount was required to "vindicate" Wilson after her reputation was damaged, Supreme Court of Victoria judge John Dixon said in his judgment.

"The judge accepted without qualification that I had an extremely high reputation and that the damage inflicted on me was substantial," Wilson tweeted.

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

After an all-woman jury agreed with Wilson's claim of defamation in June, she tweeted: "And re my defamation case win, any $'s I receive will go to charity, scholarships or invested into the Aussie film industry to provide jobs".

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.

The court was told Wilson had offered to settle the matter for $200,000.

However, following a four-week trial, the publisher will now be forced to pay the highest amount of defamation damages ever awarded in Australia.

Bauer, which 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, Justice Dixon said.

Bauer repeated the "offending allegations", keeping the stories going for days even when it knew the slurs would be repeated in celebrity media, he added.

"Ms Wilson's reputation as an actress of integrity was wrongly damaged," the judge said.

The publications had a longstanding effect on Wilson, both physically and psychologically, with Bauer Media not caring whether she suffered and instead remaining focused on selling more magazines and increasing circulation, Justice Dixon added.

Wilson started the trial seeking more than $7 million.

Speaking outside court, Wilson's lawyer Richard Leder said the verdict set a "significant record".

"It is about four times the highest previous verdict in a defamation case in Australia," he told reporters.

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," he said in a statement.

Wilson is now seeking her legal costs to be paid by Bauer Media, which will be decided at a future date.

© AAP 2017

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