Shock development as Network Ten seeks to extend Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial, days before decision due

Dylan Caporn
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Bruce Lehrmann will find out this week if his defamation case has been successful. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)
Bruce Lehrmann will find out this week if his defamation case has been successful. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Network Ten have made a shock last-minute bid to extend Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case to hear new evidence, just days out from the scheduled decision date in the multimillion-dollar trial.

Federal Court Justice Michael Lee will hear an urgent application from Ten at 5pm on Tuesday, despite being set to deliver a decision in Mr Lehrmann’s case against Ten and The Project presenter Lisa Wilkinson on Thursday.

In December, Justice Lee adjourned the case following a month-long trial.

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In one of Australia’s highest-profile defamation cases, the 28-year-old battled Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over on-air reports of an alleged rape and the parliamentary cover-up that allegedly ensued.

He is seeking extensive damages, saying those reports have destroyed his reputation.

A judgment will be handed down on Thursday, when the Federal Court will deliver its verdict after weighing up the evidence of the alleged rapist and victim and dozens of other witnesses.

The trial took place in Sydney in December and February, when Justice Michael Lee heard evidence from both Ms Higgins and Lehrmann about what they claimed occurred in the office of Senator Linda Reynolds in Canberra in March 2019.

Ms Higgins said she went drinking with Lehrmann and some colleagues and returned to Parliament House in the early hours of Saturday morning.

She alleged she woke up on Senator Reynolds’ couch to find Lehrmann on top of her and that, despite her protests, he continued with the assault.

A security guard told the court she found Ms Higgins naked and asleep in the office hours after he left.

Lehrmann has consistently claimed nothing sexual happened between him and his then-fellow Liberal staffer, and has consistently denied raping her.

He claims a segment aired on 10’s The Project in February 2021 identified him - despite not naming him specifically - and that it destroyed his reputation by falsely reporting that he raped Ms Higgins.

Ten and Wilkinson have defended the interview, saying it was true and in the public interest because it involved an alleged sexual assault in Parliament House.

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Justice Lee finds Lehrmann ‘hell-bent on having sex’ with Higgins and ‘didn’t care if she knew what was going on’