West Indies superstar Twenty20 batsman Chris Gayle has won his defamation case against Australian Fairfax Media after a New South Wales, Australia Supreme Court jury found the publisher failed to prove reports alleging that the international cricketer exposed himself to a massage therapist in Sydney were true.
The jury of three women and one man took less than two hours to decide that Fairfax had not established a defense of truth to the reports.
The jury also found Fairfax was motivated by malice in publishing a series of reports in early 2016 alleging the West Indies player exposed himself to the masseuse in February 2016.
Gayle, 38, had told the court the allegations, made by the masseuse Leanne Russell, were “heartbreaking” and he felt compelled to come to court to clear his name.
He had called teammate Dwayne Smith as a witness who was present in the dressing room at Drummoyne Oval at the time of the alleged incident.
Smith told the jury it “did not happen” and said “that’s something you would remember” if it had happen.
Gayle’s lawyer, Bruce McClintock, SC, had urged the jury to accept his client’s “moving and true” testimony.
Fairfax, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and the Age had defended the articles on two bases, including the allegations were true. The jury rejected the defense.
Gayle likened the win to a “triple century” as the jury answered “no” three times when asked whether Fairfax had established the “substantial truth’ of three allegations, namely that he intentionally exposed his genitals, indecently exposed himself and indecently propositioned the woman.
The articles were published by Fairfax in January 2016 in the wake of Gayle’s famous “don’t blush baby” interview with sports reporter Mel McLaughlin, then at Network Ten.
A hearing on damages will be held at a later date. The newspaper company said it is considering an appeal.