Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The New Daily
The New Daily
Miklos Bolza

Lehrmann sure of ‘millions in defamation’ from reports

Bruce Lehrmann has launched defamation action against Network Ten and News Corp over their reports. Photo: AAP

Before being charged with sexual assault, former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann said he could obtain “millions in defamation” over media reports about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins.

Mr Lehrmann sent text messages on February 15, 2021, to his girlfriend regarding the potential payout after speaking with solicitor Warwick Korn.

“If I’m named tonight, then I’m up for millions in defamation,” he wrote.

In the messages, read out in the Federal Court on Thursday, Mr Lehrmann expressed confidence there would be no criminal charges brought against him.

“Criminal is off the cards completely,” he said.

After a police investigation, Mr Lehrmann was charged with sexual intercourse without consent in August 2021.

Ms Higgins accused Mr Lehrmann of raping her in the Parliament House office of former minister Linda Reynolds, who they both worked for, in 2019.

After the trial, the jury was discharged in October last year following juror misconduct. Prosecutors announced they would no longer pursue the charges in December, citing concerns for Ms Higgins’ mental health.

In February, Mr Lehrmann launched defamation action against Network Ten and News Corp for their February 2021 coverage of rape allegations made by his former colleague.

Former Ten journalist Lisa Wilkinson and News political editor Samantha Maiden are also named in the lawsuits.

The parties were in court on Thursday to hear an extension of time application by Mr Lehrmann to bring the defamation lawsuits, which typically are required to be filed within a year of the allegedly defamatory publications.

Mr Lehrmann claims he could not start the lawsuits earlier because of the criminal proceeding, legal advice he received from Mr Korn, and his own mental health.

Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said there were inconsistencies between the texts sent by Mr Lehrmann to his girlfriend and a female friend about Mr Korn’s advice and what he told his solicitor Paul Svilans, his instructing solicitor in the defamation case.

Ten, News and Wilkinson have asked for Mr Korn and Mr Lehrmann to step into the witness stand and personally give evidence about their conversations during the extension of time hearing.

Statements of claim for Mr Lehrmann filed in the defamation action said his personal reputation had been damaged by the allegations.

Mr Lehrmann has consistently denied the allegations.

In their defences, Ten, News and Wilkinson say they will prove the truth of the sexual assault allegations.

The Federal Court hearing continues.

Lifeline 131 114

beyondblue 1300 224 636


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.