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Jury verdicts Fairfax Media of malice, awards defamation case in favour of Chris Gayle

Justice Lucy McCallum will now assess how much money Gayle will be awarded in damages. 

West Indies Cricketer Chris Gayle
West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

West Indies’ most cherished and respected cricketer, Chris Gayle had his reputation tarnished when a series of articles were published by Fairfax Media in 2016, which alleged the swashbuckling batsman of exposing his genitals to a masseuse. However, the year-long defamation case finally concluded last night after the jury ruled the verdict in Gayle’s favour. The jury at the supreme court in Sydney took less than two hours to give their ruling if Gayle had indecently propositioned her or not. The court will convene on Tuesday to consider damages.

The masseuse, Leanne Russell, relieved the incident as she told the court last week that it was horrific and she cried profusely after the West Indies cricketer pulled his towel down to expose his penis. During the proceedings, Russell disclosed that she walked into the dressing room looking for a sandwich and found Gayle wearing a towel.

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After a thorough scrutiny of the allegations, the 4-member jury comprising of three women and one man found that Gayle did not expose his genitals to the masseuse and the publisher was motivated by malice in reporting the false allegation.

Gayle could be awarded extra money for aggravated damages

Following the release of the verdict, Fairfax lawyer Peter Bartlett from Minter Ellison said, “The decision could cost the company a lot of money unless we can reverse it on appeal”. Justice Lucy McCallum will now assess how much money Gayle will be awarded in damages. The jury blamed Fairfax media for malice when it published the allegations in a series of articles in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times.

In Australia general damages in defamation cases are capped at $389,500. However, that figure could blow out if Gayle is awarded money for aggravated and special damages.

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