Rebel Wilson wins Australia's biggest ever defamation payout

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Actress Rebel Wilson arrives at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, August 30, 2015.
Actress Rebel Wilson arrives at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, August 30, 2015. Reuters/Danny Moloshok

Actress Rebel Wilson has been awarded more than $4.5 million in damages over magazine articles. A court has ruled that articles portraying her as a “serial liar” were defamatory.

The Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Dixon determined on Wednesday that Wilson must get $650,000 in general damages and $3.91 million in special damages. It is said to be the highest defamation payout in Australia’s legal history.

Dixon said the damage to the actress’ reputation was "unprecedented" and that she suffered "financial loss.” He maintained that substantial damages are necessary to compensate Wilson. "Substantial vindication can only be achieved by an award of damages that underscores that Ms Wilson's reputation as an actress of integrity was wrongly damaged in a manner that affected her marketability in a huge worldwide marketplace,” the ABC quotes him as saying.

The "Pitch Perfect" star’s legal team had allegedly argued for $1.2 million in general damages and $5.89 million in special damages. Matthew Collins, Wilson’s barrister, had said the $7 million figure was "conservative" as it was difficult to verify the kind of film contracts his client missed out as a result of the defamatory articles.

In a statement, Adrian Goss, Bauer Media's general counsel, said the company was considering the judgement. "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, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, adding this is what the company focused on.

Wilson promised in June to donate money from her defamation win to charities or local causes. She tweeted at that time that she would also use the funds to create scholarships and invest in Australia's film industry in order to create jobs. She added that she takes being a role model seriously.

Wilson had claimed that she was sacked from films due to the articles. The Australian actress added that she wanted to stand up to “bullies.”

Wilson, who was born in Sydney, has appeared in musical films “Pitch Perfect” and “Pitch Perfect 2” as Fat Amy, where she earned several award nominations and wins. These include the MTV Best Breakthrough Performance Award and a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress. She first came to the public's attention in 2002 with her stage musical “The Westie Monologues.” She also reportedly became a spokesperson for a weight loss and nutrition company in Australia.

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