John Jarratt provides testimony in defamation case in support of the lawyer who successfully defended him against historic rape allegations
When Wolf Creek star John Jarratt was charged with rape, he retained Sydney criminal lawyer Chris Murphy whom he later dubbed the 'Godfather of Law' for his brilliant work.
'He has hearing problems, but so did Beethoven - ears do not affect the brain,' Jarratt said in his affidavit tendered to the lawyer's defamation hearing in the Federal Court on Thursday.
'Chris and his colleagues did most of the groundwork in defending me, and I christened him the Godfather of Law, because he masterfully conducted my case from his office.
'I won the case against me unanimously - it took the jury 15 minutes to find me not guilty.'
The actor was cross-examined about his affidavit at the defamation lawsuit brought by the 72-year-old high-profile solicitor against The Daily Telegraph and journalist Annette Sharp over her October 10 column.
She wrote he 'continues to battle with the ravages of age and with it the associated deafness that has kept him from representing his clients in court during the past year'.
Mr Murphy's barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC says the article suggested he 'is too old and deaf and can't even get to court' and depicts him as being 'past it, decrepit and over the hill'.
She contends it conveyed five defamatory meanings including that he was 'so ravaged by age' he is unfit to practise.
Jarratt said after being charged with rape, alleged to have occurred in 1976, he had numerous meetings with Mr Murphy and his colleagues, including Bryan Wrench, before his 2019 acquittal.
He thought Mr Murphy was 'a brilliant exponent of the law', who had lost nothing except hearing.
But to his observation he can 'hear perfectly well' when using his hearing aids.
Mr Murphy had told him he liked to 'orchestrate' every tiny detail of his cases from his office.
'I regularly associate with other actors and other well known people from other professions within the film and television industries,' he said.
'Amongst those persons, prior to publication of the article, Chris has had a reputation for fearlessly and aggressively defending the rights of his clients.'
The Telegraph and Sharp deny the article conveyed the meanings put forward by Mr Murphy, and say it is not defamatory to say someone is deaf.
If they were found to be defamatory, they said three meanings were true.
Their barrister Dauid Sibtain referred Jarratt to the press conference he gave outside court after his acquittal where he was accompanied by Mr Wrench.
He also referred him to a video where he was celebrating his acquittal at a bar with people including Mr Wrench, where he toasted the absent Mr Murphy.
Thirdly, Mr Sibtain referred him to Jarratt's own book where he spoke of Mr Wrench having him repeatedly go over his statements and other materials.
'It is correct that Bryan Wrench played an integral role in the preparation of your case,' Mr Sibtain asked.
'Yes, he worked with Chris Murphy,' Jarratt replied.
The hearing continues before Justice Michael Lee.