SYDNEY, Australia, Monday October 30, 2017 – An emotional Chris Gayle emerged from the NSW Supreme Court today in Sydney after he won a defamation case against an Australian media group.
Fairfax – the publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times – had claimed that the West Indies all-round cricketer exposed his genitals to team masseuse Leanne Russell in a dressing room at the 2015 World Cup in Sydney and “indecently propositioned” her.
But this morning, the jury of three women and one man took less than two hours to decide that Fairfax had not established a defence of truth to the reports.
The jury also found Fairfax was motivated by malice in publishing the series of reports in early 2016.
Gayle said the outcome of the high profile case was tantamount to scoring a “triple century” because the jury answered “no” three times when asked whether Fairfax had established the “substantial truth” of three allegations, namely that he intentionally exposed his genitals, indecently exposed himself and indecently propositioned the woman.
“At the end of the day I’m very, very happy,” he said, adding that coming to court had been “very emotional”. “I’m a good man. I’m not guilty.”
But in a strongly worded statement, Fairfax said it “believes that it did not get a fair trial” and is seriously considering an appeal.
Outside the court, the company’s solicitor, Minter Ellison partner Peter Bartlett, expressed his shock and disappointment.
“I think there are grounds of appeal and we’ll be looking at that very carefully,” he said. “It will cost the company a lot of money unless we can reverse it on appeal.”
Throughout the trial, Gayle had vigorously denied the allegations, saying the journalists behind the story wanted to “destroy him”.
The media group had defended the articles on the basis the allegations were substantially true and in the public interest.
His teammate Dwayne Smith, who was in the changing room at the time, also denied the incident took place.
During the week-long hearing, a tearful Russell stood by the allegations, saying she had gone to the room looking for a towel and came across Gayle. She alleged he lowered the towel he was wearing and asked: “Are you looking for this?”
Gayle’s close friend Donovan Miller told the hearing that since the allegations the West Indian had become “scared, especially (around) females and he always feels someone is out to get him”.
A hearing on damages will be held at a later date.