Bruce Lehrmann settles defamation case with ABC

Bruce Lehrmann settles defamation case with ABC

The ABC and former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann have settled a defamation action following a 2022 National Press Club speech by Brittany Higgins.

Mr Lehrmann was due to take on the ABC, alongside Network 10, in the Federal Court in Sydney today after he sued over coverage of allegations he raped his former colleague Ms Higgins in Parliament House in Canberra.

The ABC said it had “settled on mutually acceptable, confidential terms, without admission of liability.”

The allegations against Mr Lehrmann remain unresolved after a criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court collapsed due to juror misconduct, and plans for a retrial were later abandoned because of fears for Ms Higgins’s health.

There have been no findings against Mr Lehrmann, who maintains his innocence.

Mr Lehrmann’s defamation action against Network 10 and journalist Lisa Wilkinson began today -both of whom attended proceedings today.

The Project first aired allegations by Brittany Higgins in 2021.

While the program did not name Mr Lehrmann, he later argued in a letter to Network 10 that his identity was “widely trafficked as the culprit” across social media.

The court heard The Project’s producer did not give Lehrmann ample time to respond to a program which was weeks in the making and already “set in stone”.

The broadcast of the interview was viewed live by 725,000 people and by a further 200,000 on 10 Play before it was taken down – at which time the “poison would have spread”, Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson said.

“My client has been publicly maligned, as certainly the most prominent rapist, probably one of the more revolting predators in the recent history of this country.

“Mr Lehrmann has lost everything. A substantial award of damages will be called for, accompanied by a written judgement, particularly critical in this case, vindicating Mr Lehrmann.”

In court today Bruce Lehrmann said he was ‘socially isolated’ after the interview aired, adding the social isolation led to some “significant mental health struggles”.

“I’ve worked out who my real friends are that’s for sure, which are not many,” he told the Federal Court.

The Federal Court this morning also rejected a push by 10 to restrict the live streaming of the trial on YouTube.

Source: ABC, The Guardian