Actor Craig McLachlan has been accused of deliberately lying about giving “air” kisses to female colleagues while under bedsheets, out of sight of the audience, during a scene in the Rocky Horror Show.

In the New South Wales supreme court on Thursday, McLachlan, 56, was asked about seemingly conflicting accounts of whether he continued to kiss the body of whichever actor was playing the character of Janet after he had disappeared under the bedsheets.

After McLachlan claimed he made air kisses for comedy, defence barrister Michael Hodge QC accused the actor of making the story up after seeing video footage of him continuing to make kissing sounds after he had dropped down under the covers.

“It’s a deliberate lie,” Hodge said.

“No, it’s not,” McLachlan replied.

McLachlan is suing the ABC, Fairfax, and actor Christie Whelan Browne for defamation over publications in January 2018 relating to claims of misconduct during the 2014 production of the Rocky Horror Show and other productions.

McLachlan admitted to “jokingly” kissing Whelan Browne once on the hips while underneath the bedsheets when trying to find his dropped prop e-cigarette.

“It was quite a funny moment,” he told the court.

He denied pulling back Whelan Browne’s underwear and kissing her buttocks during that same scene, saying the move was physically and temporally impossible.

“You did do it, didn’t you Mr McLachlan?” Hodge said.

“No, I didn’t,” the actor replied.

After the publications, McLachlan lost the lead role of Dr Frank N Furter in the Rocky Horror Show. Future telemovies for the Doctor Blake Mysteries, where the actor played the titular role, were also put on hold.

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The reports’ claims include that McLachlan called female actors into his dressing room while naked, stuck his tongue down an actor’s throat during a musical number and threatened to end her career if she complained about him, and groped a crew member’s breasts.

The defence case revolves around the testimony of 11 women who worked with McLachlan on the musical, and on other television and theatre productions.

The actor has denied the allegations and has accused Whelan Browne and two other women of approaching the media for notoriety or money.

The hearing with acting Justice Carolyn Simpson continues.

Source: The Guardian