Craig McLachlan libel lawsuit: 11 women should allege actor’s misconduct, court hears | Libel Law


Eleven women are set to allege misconduct by Craig McLachlan during a production of The Rocky Horror Show and other television and theater shows, the court has heard in the actor’s defamation lawsuit.

Gold Logie winner is suing Fairfax Media, the ABC and actor Christie Whelan Browne for defamation over allegations made in 2018 that he assaulted, harassed, intimidated and exposed female cast members during production of 2014. McLachlan denies the allegations.

The 56-year-old is also pursuing allegations about his workplace conduct beyond The Rocky Horror Show.

The media defends the allegations on the basis of truth.

Defense barrister Michael Hodge QC told the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday that McLachlan behaved inappropriately towards six women who worked on a production of The Rocky Horror Show in 2014, five of these women being performers and a member of the team.

Hodge said the defense plans to call those women as witnesses along with five other women who worked with McLachlan on TV shows Neighbors, City Homicide and the Doctor Blake Mysteries, and a production of Rocky Horror Show in 2018.

The lawyer said there would be evidence from three women who played Janet in the 2014 Rocky Horror Show production, their testimony to include that he would ‘kiss the bodies’ of the actors during the ‘bed scene’ while being hidden.

The court heard the defense included that McLachlan, in the scene, on one occasion ‘traced’ part of Whelan Browne’s vagina with his finger after telling her earlier that he could see through her stage briefs.

McLachlan, on another occasion during the same scene, pulled her stage briefs to the side and kissed her on the buttock, the attorney said.

“It wasn’t something he agreed to with the actress playing Janet,” Hodge told the court.

There is also reportedly evidence from Whelan Browne that she was ‘frightened and upset’ after McLachlan grabbed her jaw and aggressively threw her face to the side during the rock musical’s ‘I’m Coming Home’ scene.

Hodge told the jury that Whelan Browne had a “pretty dirty” sense of humor and that they would likely hear communications, including text messages, between her and McLachlan from the “joking” couple.

Two other actors who played Janet, one of whom cannot be identified, would also recount “uncomfortable” encounters with McLachlan during the musical, the court was told.

The court heard their testimony would include the actor running his hand over an actress’ leg as she stood on a hidden platform and forcibly kissing herself in a dressing room.

Another woman from the 2014 production, who played Magenta, would testify that McLachlan entered her dressing room when she was alone, partially undressed.

“He would walk in and want to hug her and hug her,” Hodge said.

On Monday, McLachlan’s lawyer, Kieran Smark SC, told the court it was a “two-pronged attack launched against him by two powerful media outlets”.

In his opening address to the jury, Smark said hundreds of thousands of people in Australia had seen the attack on McLachlan through the ABC’s 730 program and on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as in line.

“This matter has been brought to court because this court … is where Mr. McLachlan can respond to the strong attack that these publications have made against him and his reputation,” Smark said.

The lawyer told the court that McLachlan, before playing Frank N Furter on The Rocky Horror Show in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne in 2014, was a successful stage and television actor.

The jury viewed Monday a short promotional video from the production of The Rocky Horror Show 2014 along with clips of important “on-stage” portions of the show, including the opening scene of Act Two called the “Scene Janet’s bed”.

“It’s a sex story, told comically,” Smark said.

The court was also told of photos from the production – which involved cross-dressing and sexual themes – showing McLachlan in “feminine gear” like high-heeled shoes, fishnet stockings, women’s underwear, garter belt and a corset.

Whelan Browne, as shown in the photos, performed sometimes in a white outfit, white bra and white headband and at others in a “stripped state” in a red and black suit with a boa in feathers, the court said.

“That’s how the show was,” Mr. Smark said, describing the production as “high energy” and his costumes as “tight” and “risky.”

He said there would be evidence from McLachlan of how he got along with Whelan Browne and others in the cast of the musical, which he described as playing out every night the same way according to rehearsals and choreography.

The actor is expected to testify later on Tuesday.


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