Revealed: the paltry sum Lehrmann would have been awarded if he won

Steve ZemekNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

Even if Bruce Lehrmann had won his defamation battle with Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson, he would have only been awarded $20,000.

In a scathing judgment delivered in the Federal Court on Monday, Justice Michael Lee found, to the civil standard of the balance of probabilities, that Lehrmann had raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.

Justice Lee found Lehrmann had been so “hellbent on having sex” with Ms Higgins after kissing her in a nightclub that he “did not care one way or another whether Ms Higgins understood or agreed to what was going on”.

He also found that Lehrmann had told “deliberate lies” on the witness stand and remarked that to call him “a poor witness is an exercise in understatement”.

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Camera IconBruce Lehrmann lost his defamation lawsuit against Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson. NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard. Credit: News Corp Australia

Justice Lee dismissed the lawsuit because he upheld Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson’s truth defence, after finding that the allegations made by Ms Higgins during her The Project interview in February 2021 were substantially true.

However, he did find that the broadcaster’s conduct in respect of the Logies speech given by Ms Wilkinson, which delayed Lehrmann’s ACT Supreme Court criminal trial, was “egregious”.

Ms Wilkinson’s Logies speech, delivered eight days before the trial was due to begin and which referenced Ms Higgins, resulted in ACT Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum delaying the trial “through gritted teeth”.


However, Justice Lee noted that while the speech undermined Lehrmann’s right to a fair trial, he was only affected for a short period and that “Ms Wilkinson, ironically, did him a favour by making the Logies speech.”

During one of two interviews with Seven’s Spotlight last year, Lehrmann said that the three-month legal delay allowed his lawyers to “dig deeper” and “go down the rabbit holes”.

Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent before the trial was aborted due to juror misconduct.

The charge was subsequently dropped and the Director of Public Prosecutions chose not to pursue a retrial due to concerns about Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Camera IconLisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech delayed the criminal trial. Channel 9 Credit: Supplied

“Although I am satisfied that Mr Lehrmann was justifiably angry and hurt at the giving of the Logies speech,” Justice Lee said.

“The evolution of his state of mind to the recognition that the Logies speech significantly reduced his chances of conviction, diminishes the practical and ongoing effect of the aggravating conduct.”

Justice Lee said that had Lehrmann won the lawsuit, he would have been awarded more than “nominal damages”.

“If it had been necessary to assess damages in favour of Mr Lehrmann, the appropriate and rational relationship between the actual harm sustained and the damages awarded would lead to total damages of $20,000,” Justice Lee said.

The matter will return to court at a later date to decide whether Lehrmann will be required to pay Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson’s legal costs.

Ms Wilkinson’s legal costs have been estimated to be over $1 million and the overall legal bill for all parties is estimated to be $10 million.

The parties have been ordered to file submissions on costs orders by Monday, April 22.

Originally published as Revealed: the paltry sum Lehrmann would have been awarded if he won

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