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    Bruce Lehrmann to pay $2 million to Network 10 following failed defamation case

    Bruce Lehrmann has been ordered to pay $2 million in legal costs to Network 10 following his failed defamation case against the network, The Project, and Lisa Wilkinson.

    The ABC reports that the Federal Court had agreed to Network 10’s nominated lump sum. The hearing, held today, saw 10’s lawyers say the actual costs were around $3.6 million, but had heavily discounted the amount. 

    Justice Michael Lee acknowledged the costs may never be paid by Lehrmann.

    “It is common ground the applicant is a man of modest means… it is not suggested that there is any real likelihood that he will be in a real position to pay a substantial costs order,” he said.

    The cost dispute between Lisa Wilkinson and Network 10 is still being worked out.

    In April, Lehrmann lost his defamation case against Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson, after Justice Lee found Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins on the balance of probabilities.

    He has lodged an appeal in the Federal Court against that ruling.

    Lehrmann sued 10 and Wilkinson over a February 2021 interview with Higgins that aired on The Project. In the interview, Higgins made the allegation that she had been raped in an office at 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 added that it was “notorious in Parliament House and elsewhere that Mr Lehrmann was the person alleged to have assaulted Ms Higgins”.

    In a marathon summary of his judgment, Justice Lee agreed that Lehrmann was identifiable in The Project interview, so his decision turned to whether 10 and Wilkinson could successfully rely on a truth defence.

    Lehrmann raped Higgins on the balance of probabilities, Justice Lee found, meaning 10 and Wilkinson succeeded in that truth defence.

    This was 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. 

    See also: ‘Unmitigated disaster for Bruce Lehrmann’: Lisa Wilkinson, 10, and 10’s lawyers on defamation win

    The post Bruce Lehrmann to pay $2 million to Network 10 following failed defamation case appeared first on Mediaweek.

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