A Project homestay, Meakin on the stand, as trial continues.

A Project homestay, Meakin on the stand, as trial continues.

The defamation trial between Bruce Lehrmann and Network 10 / Lisa Wilkinson continued yesterday.

It was revealed Brittany Higgins was staying at Lisa Wilkinson’s family home in Sydney within weeks of the story breaking in the media and texted a Queensland MP revealing she was working “behind the scenes” on a Four Corners program.

The Federal Court has been told that in March 2021, around a month after rape allegations aired on The Project, she was also assisting the ABC’s flagship news and current affairs program.

“I have been working with Four Corners behind the scenes to help piece it all together,’’ she said.

“I’ve been staying with Lisa Wilkinson and Peter FitzSimons in Sydney for the past few days.

They have been so wonderful.”

The Four Corners program she assisted with was not mentioned in the Federal Court.

Former Nine and Seven news executive Peter Meakin was an editorial consultant for 10 at the time the Project broadcast the Higgins interview and took to the witness box yesterday.

Meakin agreed that The Project was “going further” towards identifying Lehrmann than Samantha Maiden’s article in news.com.au which was published first.

He said The Project was relying on Maiden’s article to promote the program that evening and that the promotion could improve ratings.

Meakin said he has never spoken to Higgins personally and he did not watch the two-hour raw camera tapes.

Meakin said he knew Maiden was not going to name the alleged perpetrator and neither was The Project. However, The Project was going to say he worked for Linda Reynolds and that he had followed her from the portfolio of home affairs to her then portfolio of defence industries.

One email forwarded by Scott Morrison’s adviser Andrew Carswell to The Project was a friendly exchange between former Chief of Staff Fiona Brown and Higgins. Higgins said: “I wanted to say this in person, but I can’t overstate how much I valued your support and advice throughout this period. You’ve been absolutely incredible and I’m so appreciative.”

Asked whether The Project should have followed up with Higgins about the apparent contradiction, Meakin said: “Well, I suppose in retrospect, we could have done a lot of things, but I think Angus did a good job.”

Lehrmann is suing Wilkinson and her employer Network 10 over an interview with Higgins that was broadcast on The Project in 2021. He alleges the story defamed him by suggesting he raped Higgins in 2019. Lehrmann has always denied the rape allegation.

The trial continues.

Source: news.com.au, Guardian Australia.