Bruce Lehrmann defamation case: Judgment adjourned due to an audio failure

Natalie Wolfe and Phil Hickey
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Bruce Lehrmann arrives at court.
Bruce Lehrmann arrives at court. Credit: Don Arnold/Getty Images

The highly anticipated judgment in the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case was over almost as soon as it started thanks to an audio failure in the courtroom.

More than 26,000 people were watching a live stream of the judgment on Monday morning before it cut out.

In the seconds before the audio cut out and Justice Michael Lee was forced to adjourn his judgment to fix the technical issues, he befittingly described the case as an “omnishambles”.

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Justice Lee commenced his judgment in the defamation proceedings between Bruce Lehrmann and Network 10 on Monday morning.

He said he would read an overview of the 324-page judgment.

“Given the public interest in the case I will attempt to provide an oral overview of my findings,” he said.

“Alas even this oral summary will be lengthy because the ....case has some complexity.

“Only one man and one woman know the truth.”

He said “the endless controversy has become a cause celebre” for many parties.

Proceedings have now been adjourned as the audio issues are fixed.

Mr Lehrmann sued both Channel Ten and Lisa Wilkinson over their interview with Brittany Higgins in 2021 — in which she claimed to have been raped by a colleague in Parliament House.

That colleague was not named in the show. But Mr Lehrmann alleged the details in it made it clear that it was him — and that the claim “utterly destroyed him”.

Mr Lehrmann has always denied the rape allegation and is seeking extensive damages. A criminal trial in 2022 was derailed due to juror misconduct, with prosecutors later dropping the charges against him over fears for Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Justice Michael Lee adjourned the case in December to consider his decision after a month-long trial.

But late last month, Justice Lee opted to briefly reopen the trial after Network Ten made a shock last-minute bid to extend the case to hear new evidence.

That saw the former producer of Channel 7’s Spotlight program, Taylor Auerbach, take the stand and drop a series of bombshell claims in the process about how the network allegedly secured an exclusive interview with the accused rapist.

They included salacious claims by Mr Auerbach of sex, drugs and invoices — which he said were covered by his former employer. A claim that a Seven Network spokesperson said was “completely false”.

In turn, Mr Auerbach denied he was simply out to damage the Seven Network any way he could — despite admitting his hatred of former colleague and fellow producer Steve Jackson.

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