Actor Geoffrey Rush has had a small legal win in his defamation case against a Sydney tabloid and its journalist with a judge barring a former co-star from giving evidence against him.
Justice Michael Wigney in Sydney's Federal Court on Wednesday refused a late application by the Daily Telegraph's publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran to have actor Colin Moody give evidence at the trial later in October.
The judge criticised the Telegraph and Moran for their "undeniably unsatisfactory conduct" during the case, with the application to have Moody testify made after their outline of evidence was due.
Rush is suing over articles about allegations he behaved inappropriately toward fellow actor Eryn Jean Norvill during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.
The 67-year-old denies the claims and says the articles made him out to be a pervert and predator.
One of Norvill's allegations is that Rush traced his hand down her torso and across the side of her breast during a scene where he carried her on stage, according to court documents.
She's expected to testify that director Neil Armfield later told Rush he should touch her differently and make the scene more paternal as it was becoming creepy and unclear.
But it's anticipated Armfield will deny making such feedback when he gives evidence for Rush at trial, the court on Wednesday heard.
Moody, if allowed to testify, was expected to say he hadn't seen Rush's alleged touching of Norvill as he was facing the audience at the time.
But he later heard Armfield tell Rush he was doing something unclear and bordering on creepy.
Justice Wigney said it was a "collateral issue" at best to the main question of whether Rush touched Norvill as alleged.
Rush and Armfield are said to be friends and the judge said the Telegraph and Moran should have expected back in August that the director would likely give evidence for Rush, and they would need corroborating evidence of Norvill's account.
He accepted that the addition of a new witness so close to the trial date would disadvantage Rush.