The actor launched defamation proceedings against the outlets and co-star Christie Whelan Browne, and is seeking $6.5 million in damages in a defamation trial set down for four weeks from February 4.
Declined to co-operate
At a preliminary hearing of the case in November, the Supreme Court was told that Mr McLachlan had declined to co-operate with the Victoria Police’s investigation.
Trent Glover, for the police commissioner, told the court the refusal was one reason why he was abandoning a bid to preclude access to certain documents, produced in response to subpoenas, on grounds of public interest immunity.
Soon after the allegations surfaced in January 2018, Mr McLachlan was removed from a revival of The Rocky Horror Show and also as the lead actor in The Doctor Blake Mysteries television series. Fairfax and the ABC sought to include three new complaints about his time on the program, but this was rejected by the court.
The former star of Neighbours and Home and Away also enjoyed success as musician with the 1990 hit Mona and has performed in a number of musicals including The Rocky Horror Show, in which he played Dr Frank N. Furter.
His lawyers have said that since the publications, Mr McLachlan has become reclusive and his acting career has been effectively destroyed.
The reports claimed he bullied and indecently assaulted Ms Whelan Browne, who played Janet, and two other female cast members – Erika Heynatz and Angela Scundi.
It has been reported that Ms Heynatz and Ms Scundi made complaints to Victoria Police alleging that a number of actors “were subjected to Mr McLachlan touching their genitals, groping their breasts, exposing himself and pressing his penis against them during the stage production”.
It is alleged that some of the inappropriate touching occurred when female cast members were on stage performing and Mr McLachlan could not be seen by the audience.
The show’s producer, the Gordon Frost Organisation (GFO), was criticised for saying it was “not aware of any details of these allegations until they were published in the media”.
GFO acknowledged it had previously received legal letters but that they “contained no details of the claims or the claimants”.
“For GFO to say they had no details of the complaint prior to our going to the media is not true,” Ms Heynatz told Fairfax. “Our first letter through our lawyers provided a bullet point list of explicitly inappropriate behaviour by Craig McLachlan.”
She said that instead of investigating “they threatened to sue us for defamation”.