Seven Network handed over the documents relating to his 7News headlines interview with Bruce Lehrmann, in court this morning.
Lehrmann filed a defamation suit against 10 February over an interview with his former colleague Brittany Higgins on The project, aired February 15, 2021.
She said the interview conveyed a number of libelous meanings, including that she raped Higgins in the office of then Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds in 2019. She denies the rape allegation.
Lehrmann was not named in the broadcast, but his lawyers say he has been identified by other means.
Network 10 lawyers Lisa Wilkinson said today that a “calculated” and “concerted” media campaign using narrow court material was being undertaken to pressure and dissuade witnesses from testifying in Bruce Lehrmann’s libel trial.
Sue Chrysanthou SC, counsel to Wilkinson, and Matt Collins KC, counsel to Network 10, complained on Friday about a significant amount of advertising on Channel Seven and in News Corp publications in recent days.
They complained that the coverage was based on material that had been produced under mandatory orders during Lehrmann’s criminal trial, but had never been offered, which would be against the rules governing the sharing of such material.
The material in question included a copy of the contents of Brittany Higgins’ phone, recordings of police interviews with key witnesses and a recording of the five-hour pre-interview meeting between Higgins, David Sharaz, Wilkinson and producer Angus Llewellyn.
Chrysanthou said it was clear someone was engaged in a concerted campaign and accused the media of “dishonestly” editing the five-hour tape.
“There was no attempt to approach my client prior to that broadcast, to ask her questions about what was happening in that audio recording,” she said.
“We wrote to Channel 7 about this. And we said that this led us to infer that you have no interest in our client’s story and that the entire purpose of the broadcast was just to dispute it. But also to infer that you didn’t want us to know that you have this audio recording, because that would have led to an application for an injunction.
He told the court: “(The) publicity has been to such an extent that it tends to and has had the effect of … placing improper pressure on my client, overwhelmingly.
“Now these media organizations are, it seems, publishing one side of the story entirely.”
Lehrmann also filed proceedings against ABC for broadcasting a live speech by Higgins at the National Press Club. The separate lawsuits against News Corp, filed at the same time, were resolved.
Earlier, the court ruled against a jury trial, citing the considerable publicity surrounding the case and difficulties in protecting against bias.
Meanwhile, Liberal frontbencher Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has apologized to Lisa Wilkinson after she struggled to pronounce her name in an audio leak, broadcast on SKY News.
“Obviously these are quite derogatory and racist comments. But what would you expect from individuals who belong to the awake class. This level of arrogance and ignorance doesn’t surprise me,” Senator Price told 2GB on Friday morning.
“That level of arrogance. It’s quite disappointing but it doesn’t surprise me. I’d be interested to know who their black friends are.
“I would absolutely expect an apology from the 10 Network, from Lisa Wilkinson herself, that would be the decent thing to do.”