Seven has defended its decision to pay for former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann’s rent in Sydney, which was paid in return for his Spotlight interviews.
A statement from a Seven spokesperson provided to Mediaweek said, “We said at the time we were assisting Bruce Lehrmann with his accommodation costs. It was well-reported back then. The 7NEWS Spotlight report was rightfully judged by the esteemed Walkley Foundation as one of the top three scoops of 2023.”
Lehrmann is currently suing Network 10 and former The Project star Lisa Wilkinson for defamation in relation to a February 2021 interview with Brittany Higgins. In the interview, Higgins made the allegation that she had been raped in an office of Parliament House.
Whilst he was not named, Lerhmann claimed that “his name was widely trafficked as the culprit on social media and the internet generally”. His lawyers echoed that message, saying that “it was “notorious in Parliament House and elsewhere that Mr Lehrmann was the person alleged to have assaulted Ms Higgins”.
The interviews, conducted by journalist Liam Bartlett, were aired in June and August and are currently being examined in the court.
Lehrmann had also been suing the ABC for defamation in relation to a February 2022 National Press Club speech, made by Higgins alongside former Australian of the Year Grace Tame. Last week, the particular case was settled.
Dr Matthew Collins KC, the barrister representing the ABC, confirmed the settlement on Wednesday morning. Justice Michael Lee, who is presiding over the case, is yet to order costs.
As well as Network 10 and the ABC, earlier this year Lehrmann dropped his legal proceedings against News Corp after reaching an out-of-court settlement. He had been taking defamation action against both News Life Media – publisher of news.com.au – and Samantha Maiden, news.com.au’s national political editor.
Top Image: Bruce Lehrmann sits down for an interview on 7NEWS Spotlight
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