Lehrmann lodges last-minute appeal for defamation loss

Miklos Bolza |

Bruce Lehrmann has filed a last-minute appeal in the Federal Court.
Bruce Lehrmann has filed a last-minute appeal in the Federal Court.

Bruce Lehrmann has filed a last-minute appeal against a judge’s dismissal of his defamation case and finding that he likely raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House.

The 28-year-old had until Friday afternoon to challenge April findings by Justice Michael Lee that dismissed his case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

Following a long and closely watched trial, the judge found claims that Lehrmann raped Ms Higgins in the Parliament House office of Senator Linda Reynolds in March 2019 were probably true.

(L to R) Sue Chrysanthou, Lisa Wilkinson and Matt Collins (file image)
Lehrmann faces a multimillion-dollar bill for the legal costs of Ten and Lisa Wilkinson. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

He sued for defamation over an interview with Ms Higgins that aired in February 2021 on Ten’s The Project.

After being given an extension of time, Lehrmann filed a notice that he planned to appeal the decision on Friday morning.

The court previously heard that he had no financial backers in his case and his lawyers had worked on a no-win, no-fee basis during the proceedings.

He is expected to be hit with a multimillion-dollar legal bill to cover Ten and Wilkinson’s costs of defending the defamation trial.

He was ordered to pay costs on an indemnity basis earlier in May after the judge found he had brought the lawsuit on a false basis and had lied to police and the jury in a criminal case which was later abandoned.

Justice Lee has previously said Wilkinson is seeking to recoup more than $1.8 million in legal costs.

Brittany Higgins and David Sharaz (file image)
A defamation case against Brittany Higgins and David Sharaz is still to come. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Exactly how much Ten will want to get back is not yet known.

While the defamation case is winding down, there are a number of other lawsuits still on foot stemming from Ms Higgins’ rape claim.

These include a defamation case against Ms Higgins and her fiance David Sharaz by Senator Reynolds over allegations that the Liberal politician and others in parliament worked to cover up the sexual assault.

Justice Lee found that these claims were light on facts and long on speculation, rejecting that Ms Higgins had been forced to stay silent about the alleged crime to keep her job.

Lehrmann denies he sexually assaulted Ms Higgins and is not facing any criminal charges over the incident after his criminal trial was aborted due to juror misconduct.

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AAP