by BRENDEN HILLS
THE woman at the centre of star West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle's defamation case can now be named as Leanne Russell.
Ms Russell will be the star witness in the case, scheduled to begin in the NSW Supreme Court tomorrow.
Gayle sued Fairfax Media over a series of reports published from January 2016 that he says falsely claimed he intentionally exposed his genitalia to a female massage therapist and indecently propositioned her in a West Indies' dressing room while playing in the 2015 World Cup in Sydney.
The reports appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age in Victoria and The Canberra Times
The articles were based on the account of an anonymous woman who said she walked in to the West Indies change room looking for a sandwich to be confronted by Gayle who she said was wearing a towel.
The unnamed woman was quoted saying that Gayle indecently propositioned her.
Gayle strongly denied the allegations in the articles. Soon after, he launched legal action claiming the articles were wrong and unfairly smeared his reputation as well as damaged his ability to earn money from sponsors.
The woman can now be named as Australian masseuse Ms Russell, who is expected to be called to give evidence in the case.
According to news articles from the time, Mr Russell was called in as a late replacement to work as a massage therapist for the West Indies World Cup squad after another therapist was unavailable.
Fairfax has filed a defence to Gayle's statement of claim filed with the court and is believed to be relying on a defence of truth and qualified privilege.
The case is set to come down to Gayle's version of events versus that of Ms Russell's.
The superstar cricketer has flown into Sydney for the case and is set to be the first witness called.