Gold Logie winning actor Craig McLachlan has filed defamation proceedings against Fairfax Media and the ABC after they reported on allegations he sexually harassed several former colleagues.
One of McLachlan’s accusers, former co-star Christie Whelan Browne, is also named in the defamation suit, according to media reports.
The Seven Network says McLachlan’s statement of claim was lodged in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon and principally targets Browne.
The claim states Browne was “herself a notoriously foul-mouthed person who publicly distributed offensive matter and had expressed interest in deviant sexual practices,” according to Seven.
McLachlan has engaged prominent barrister Stuart Littlemore QC to run the case, News Corp Australia reports.
A Fairfax Media and ABC joint investigation in early January reported several cast members of the 2014 run of The Rocky Horror Picture Show accused 52-year-old McLachlan of touching them or exposing himself to them.
A woman and a man who worked as part of the crew have also gone to Victorian police who are investigating the allegations.
McLachlan previously described the allegations by Whelan Browne, Erika Heynatz and Angela Scundi as “baseless” insisting they were “all made up”.
He also vowed to fight the allegations.
“By God, I will fight this,” he told News Corp Australia.
Browne said that during Rocky Horror in 2014, McLachlan, who played transvestite Frank N Furter to her character Janet, indecently assaulted her on stage during a sex scene.
After the allegations were aired McLachlan withdrew from the current production of the Rocky Horror Show in Adelaide.
McLachlan, meanwhile, has been cleared of sexual harassment claims made by some colleagues on the set of popular TV series the Doctor Blake Mysteries.
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Cast and crew of the made complaints about the actor’s on set behaviour which allegedly included holding a banana to his crotch and thrusting it into the faces of cast and crew, according to the ABC and Fairfax.
But an investigation by workplace consultant Fiona Bigelli, who was hired by the show’s production company December Media, has cleared McLachlan of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and workplace bullying claims.
However, Ms Bigelli found many of the show’s cast and crew had described the workplace culture and humour on the Doctor Blake set as “Benny-Hill- esque” for its sexual, lewd, bawdy and crude humour.
“Some of the behaviour relating to this humour may be offensive to people regardless of the fact no formal complaints have been received,” December Media said in a statement.
Fairfax Media and the ABC on Thursday told AAP they wouldn’t be commenting on the legal action.
Mr Littlemore said he would “absolutely not” be commenting.
Comment has been sought from Mollison Keightley Management which represents McLachlan.