McLachlan in eye of #MeToo storm: judge

By , 25/04/2020 19:37

Lawyers for a woman who’s accused Craig McLachlan of sexual harassment say he’s ‘victim blaming’.Actor Craig McLachlan has found himself in the eye of the #MeToo storm, a judge in his defamation lawsuit says.

Lawyers for the Gold Logie winner on Friday were accused of “victim blaming” his former co-star who accused McLachlan of sexual harassment.

McLachlan, 52, is suing Christie Whelan Browne, Fairfax Media and the ABC after they published claims he indecently assaulted and bullied her and other colleagues.

Justice Lucy McCallum said workplace misconduct and the ambiguity of sexual behaviour were issues gripping the world and McLachlan had found himself “in the eye of that complex storm”.

McLachlan’s statement of claim asserts his harm was aggravated by the “dishonesty” of Whelan Browne, who said she was offended by his alleged indecent assault despite her regularly posting lewd comments on social media.

But Ms Whelan Browne’s barrister said swearing and posting suggestive jokes on Instagram didn’t open her up to being sexually assaulted.

“It borders on victim blaming,” Lyndelle Barnett told the Supreme Court on Friday.

Justice McCallum questioned whether a woman could be labelled as dishonest for claiming to be offended by indecent assault just because she had “used the word c***”.

McLachlan’s barrister later flagged he would reconsider that claim for aggravated damages.

In early January, the ABC and Fairfax reported several cast members of the 2014 run of The Rocky Horror Picture Show had accused McLachlan of intimidation, touching or exposing himself to them.

McLachlan’s barrister said the media outlets published a catalogue of accusations and their defence team couldn’t prove they all occurred.

“All in one nutshell this man is written off in all respects as sexually offensive to all those he works with,” Stuart Littlemore QC said.

Newspaper articles and television broadcasts aired allegations McLachlan had reached up an actress’s skirt while she was on stage but he was out of sight, the court heard.

A Sydney Morning Herald front page ran quotes from a woman who said the thespian was “calculated and manipulative, a predator”.

The ABC’s 7.30 program also reported that when a woman told the multi-award winner not to force his tongue into her mouth during an intimate scene he said: “Don’t you dare talk to me like that. I will end you.”

Mr Littlemore said the defence’s pre-trial “flourishes” were designed to slow down the process and delay his client’s chance for vindication.

Ms Barnett also said McLachlan’s statement of claim was given to the Seven Network before the ABC and Fairfax so “the cameras could be there” when it was served.

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