Sydney: Controversial West Indian batsman Chris Gayle on Tuesday won a defamation suit against Fairfax Media when a New South Wales Supreme Court jury found the publisher failed to prove reports alleging the cricketer exposed himself to a massage therapist here were true.
After deliberating for a little less than two hours, the four-member jury including three women found that Fairfax — publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times — had not established a defence of truth to the reports.
The massage therapist who made the allegation, Leanne Russell, testified in court last week that she cried uncontrollably after Gayle pulled down his towel to expose himself while saying “is this what you’re looking for?” during a training session at Drummoyne Oval in February 2015.
Both Gayle and his team-mate Dwayne Smith gave evidence denying that the episode took place.
The jury found Fairfax was motivated by malice in publishing a series of reports in early 2016 alleging that Gayle had exposed himself to the masseuse.
After the verdict was read out, Gayle spoke of his relief outside court.
“I came all the way from Jamaica to actually defend myself and my character as well. At the end of the day I’m very, very happy,” the swashbuckling opener was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.
He added that he was “not really worried about money … more about (my) character”.
“I’m a good man. I’m not guilty,” the 38-year-old further said.
Following the verdict, Fairfax indicated concerns with the conduct of the case and added that the company would be considering an appeal.
“Fairfax Media is concerned with the conduct of the trial to the extent that on Friday it sought an order that the Jury be discharged and a new trial ordered,” a spokesperson said.
“Fairfax believes that it did not get a fair trial. It is seriously considering its appeal rights.
“The Judge (Justice Lucy McCallum) accepted that the Jury had been misled in a way that prejudiced Fairfax, but declined to discharge the Jury. Fairfax believes that it did not get a fair trial. It is seriously considering its appeal rights,” he added.