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    Live updates: Bruce Lehrmann defamation case as verdict set to land

    This story is being updated live.

    Bruce Lehrmann is about to hear whether he was successful in his defamation case against Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson.

    Justice Michael Lee‘s judgment is 324 pages long, with more than 20,000 people tuning in to the livestream of the decision being handed down – the audio of which cut out just minutes after Justice Lee began speaking. In the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, the mute button was visible. The court was adjourned to fix the technical issue.

    “The underlying controversy has become a cause célèbre. Indeed, given its unexpected detours and the collateral damage it has occasioned, it might be more fitting to describe it as an omnishambles,” the federal court judge said of the case, before the audio failed.

    Lehrmann and Wilkinson were both present in courtroom one in Sydney’s federal court building to hear the judgment. Lee said given the public interest in the case, “I intend to attempt to provide an oral overview of my findings,” but given the case’s complexity, even the summary would be lengthy.

    Live updates: Bruce Lehrmann defamation case as verdict set to land

    Justice Lee delivering his judgment

    Lehrmann sued 10 and Wilkinson over a February 2021 interview with Brittany Higgins that aired on The Project. 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 trial has attracted widespread media attention, particularly in recent weeks as the case was re-opened to hear the evidence of Seven’s ex-Spotlight producer, Taylor Auerbach

    See Also: Taylor Auerbach takes to the stand in Bruce Lehrmann trial

    Lehrmann provided two interviews for Spotlight in 2023. The interviews, conducted by journalist Liam Bartlett, were aired in June and August.

    In both an affidavit and his evidence to the court, Auerbach detailed the lengths to which the program allegedly went to secure its now infamous interviews with Lehrmann – including reimbursement for illicit drugs and sex workers, $10,300 on Thai massages, several expensive dinners, and a $401.83 round of golf in Tasmania.

    This was on top of the company’s decision to pay for Lehrmann’s rent in Sydney, which had already been widely reported – and was the reason for The Walkley Foundation revoking the finalist status of the Spotlight interviews.

    See Also: Walkley Foundation “revokes finalist status” of Seven’s Spotlight interview with Bruce Lehrmann

    This is the first of Lehrmann’s defamation cases to reach a conclusion, after he previously dropped two others.

    One was against the ABC, which was settled in November 2023, launched after the ABC broadcast a speech by Brittany Higgins. The National Press Club speech, made by Higgins alongside former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, was aired in February 2022.

    The other was against News Corp, which was settled last May. Lehrmann took defamation action against both News Life Media – publisher of news.com.au – and Samantha Maiden, news.com.au’s national political editor. 

    In the News Corp case, Lehrmann claimed that he was identifiable in two news.com.au articles reporting on the March 2019 allegation that Brittany Higgins was sexually assaulted in Parliament House. 

    More to come.

    Top Image: Bruce Lehrmann

    The post Live updates: Bruce Lehrmann defamation case as verdict set to land appeared first on Mediaweek.

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