Well-known West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle has been awarded USD$300,000 for being defamed in articles claiming he exposed himself to a female massage therapist.
In October last year a NSW supreme court jury found in favour of the former West Indies captain, who sued Fairfax Media over articles published in January 2016.
The four jurors found Fairfax had not established that Gayle had exposed himself to masseuse Leanne Russell in the team dressing room in Sydney during the 2015 World Cup. They also found Fairfax was motivated by malice.
Justice Lucy McCallum awarded USD$300,000 in damages.
Justice McCallum was satisfied that the articles had been read very widely and said the allegation “gained some currency around the world”.
In his evidence to the court, Gayle said the story had gone viral, an assertion Justice McCallum accepted.
Justice McCallum said having regard to his high profile and popularity as an international cricketer, the nature of the allegation and the fascination of humankind with all things salacious, particularly in relation to people of some celebrity, she would accept that the story had gone viral.
The jury found that the articles were prompted by malice, however Justice McCallum said she disregarded the defendants’ malice in her assessment of damages.
Fairfax said it would immediately launch an appeal.
A spokesperson for the publisher said Fairfax remains concerned with the conduct of the trial.
It said the jury was misled in a way that prejudiced Fairfax, and Fairfax did not get a fair trial.