The judge in Geoffrey Rush's defamation case erred in finding the actor didn't grope his female co-star and also in finding inconsistencies between the allegation and her praise of him, the Daily Telegraph's publisher says.
Nationwide News and journalist Jonathon Moran, who are arguing Justice Michael Wigney's conduct gave rise to an apprehension of bias, filed an amended notice of appeal in Sydney's Federal Court on Friday.
The appeal grounds have risen from 18 to 20, to account for orders made in May, while those regarding Rush's female co-star Eryn Jean Norvill have also been elaborated.
Justice Wigney in April found the Telegraph and Moran were reckless regarding the truth when they reported Rush had been accused of inappropriate behaviour during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015-16.
They had tried to prove a truth defence at trial based largely on the evidence of Norvill, who didn't participate in the newspaper articles.
"The primary judged erred in finding ... that the groping and fondling gesture did not occur," the amended notice of appeal states.
The document also says Justice Wigney made an "erroneous finding" that Norvill was an unreliable witness by relying upon a "supposed inconsistency" between her court testimony and positive media statements she'd made about Rush to promote King Lear.
"(This was) in circumstances where it was fanciful to expect Ms Norvill to publicly express any reserve about working with (Rush) or to do other than characterise their collaboration as a highly-positive experience," it reads.
It further states: "The primary judge erred in relying on the fact of a number of social interactions between Ms Norvill and (Rush) as grounds for doubting the reliability of her evidence, and in finding that her explanations were 'not particularly persuasive'."
The parties will reconvene for a case management hearing before Justice Anthony Besanko on June 12.
Australian Associated Press