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Read Daily Mail Australia’s coverage of Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network 10 in the Federal Court in the live blog below.

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Lisa Wilkinson had ‘limited’ input in The Project broadcast, she wasn’t copied into 90 per cent of emails, her suggestions weren’t taken up, and she had no decision-making power … but she accepted a Logie for it anyway

Lisa Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said her client had ‘little to no decision-making power’ in the The Project broadcast.

Wilkinson accepted a Logie award for her interview with Brittany Higgins on The Project, but Ms Chrysanthou has now told a court that Wilkinson was barely involved in the production.

‘Her role in the publication, as for the actual content that was published, was actually very limited,’ she said.

‘She brought the story forward, she was the first person Ms Higgins and Mr Sharaz contacted, but after that Your Honour will see that 80 or 90 per cent of the material she was not copied into.

‘To the extent she is included in emails and makes suggestions, for the most part [they] were not taken up.

‘She has no decision-making power and the script was being amended beyond 5 and 6pm.’

Television personality Lisa Wilkinson (left) and Sue Chrysanthou SC arrive at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, Thursday, December 21, 2023. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Bruce Lehrmann’s lies are compared to Walter Mitty

Lisa Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC told the court Bruce Lehrmann could be be a compulsive liar, which would mean he doesn’t have guilt, or he’s potentially lying about the alleged rape to cover himself.

She said: ‘There can’t be doubt in anyone’s mind that there was sex, the only thing is the consent issue.’

Justice Lee interjected and asked, if they really did have sex, why Mr Lehrmann wouldn’t say it was consensual.

‘One of the curiosities of this case is, if one was to find there had been activity of a sexual nature … why would you make up such an elaborate fantasy?’ he asked.

‘Why wouldn’t it be better to say, we were at [nightclub] 88mph, I thought she was happy to come back to Parliament House.’

Ms Chrysanthou said: ‘He deliberately left his keys at Parliament House because he didn’t want to have a big night – that the lie he told police.’

‘Why would you leave your keys at Parliament House when you’re going out for dinner at 6.30 … Why didn’t he say he forgot his keys? Because he wanted to ensure that he ran with the argument that he didn’t know he was going out that night.’

She then said Mr Lehrmann’s former boss, Fiona Brown, was ‘highly critical’ of him in her affidavit because he lied to her.

He lied to her in March 2019 about why he went back to Parliament House that night, saying it was to drink whiskey.

Mr Lehrmann then told police two years later that he had no alcohol in his office and went back to collect his keys and make notes on Question Time briefs.

Justice Lee said: ‘Do you say that’s Walter Mitty behaviour?’

Ms Chrysanthou said: ‘That’s exactly right.’

Walter Mitty is a fictional character who indulges in long-winded daydreams of personal triumph.

Lisa Wilkinson’s lawyer said it wasn’t the TV star’s job to be copied into high-level discussions at The Project

Lisa Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said it was not her job to be copied in to producer-level discussions about The Project.

‘Decisions and changes were being made at a rapid pace and my client was not consulted,’ Ms Chrysanthou told the court.

She then referred to emails and messages between Network Ten producers Angus Llewellyn, Chris Bendle, and veteran television boss Peter Meakin.

‘The communications show she wasn’t copied in,’ she said.

‘It wasn’t her job, they didn’t tell her because that wasn’t her job.’

She then pointed to a question Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyers put to her, asking if she should have been copied in.

Wilkinson had said, ‘I would have liked to have known,’ but Ms Chrysanthou said ‘it wasn’t her job to have known’.

She then said Wilkinson was busy doing other things, like hosting the show on other nights.

Justice Lee said The Project broadcast was ‘pregnant’ with suggestions that Brittany Higgins was blocked from making a rape complaint

Justice Lee said The Project broadcast was ‘pregnant’ with suggestions that Brittany Higgins was blocked from proceeding with her rape allegation in Parliament House.

Lisa Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC told the court, during closing submissions, that the program never pointed to any individual during the introduction.

In the introduction to the broadcast on February 15, 2021, Wilkinson said: ‘Tonight, claims of rape, roadblocks to a police investigation, and a young woman forced to choose between her career and the pursuit of justice.’

In court on Thursday, Justice Lee said, ‘I just really do find that a very difficult construction of what went to air… when its introduced in the way its introduced, the reference to roadblocks.

‘The whole piece is pregnant with the notion that there were people … who engaged in a course of conduct to prevent her from reporting this allegation to police.’

‘I’ll look at it again in light of your submission,’ he said.

Ms Chrysanthou said: ‘Well, we disagree with that.’

He said: ‘Yes, I thought you might.’

She continued: ‘There’s no suggestion the roadblocks are about a particular person.’

Justice Lee agreed with that.

He also said it was ‘plain as a pike staff’ that the show suggested there were issues accessing the CCTV of Ms Higgins entering Parliament House with Mr Lehrmann on the night of the alleged assault.

Lisa Wilkinson’s lawyer says her disastrous Logies speech was ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared with everything else being said about Bruce Lehrmann

Justice Lee told the court that no lawyer would have given Lisa Wilkinson the green light to give her Logies speech, so close to a criminal trial.

During closing submissions, Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said the Logies speech was ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared with all the information already in the public sphere at that time.

At the time, Wilkinson sought advice from Network Ten’s lawyer before she gave the speech.

The nature of that advice is covered by legal privilege and has never been revealed.

The speech was delivered on national television just days before Mr Lehrmann’s criminal trial was due to begin. As a result, his trial was pushed back by three months.

On Thursday, Justice Lee said that legal advice was ‘evidently absurd’.

‘Do you think a lawyer would have given that advice?’

Ms Chrysanthou pointed out that Ms Higgins gave a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra, after Mr Lehmann was charged with sexual assault in January last year.

During that speech, she generally spoke as though she was a proven victim rather than an alleged victim. The ABC settled a defamation case with Mr Lehrmann over the broadcast of that speech.

She said the jury in his trial were from Canberra and likely would have been paying attention to Ms Higgins’ speech, and various speeches given by ministers about Ms Higgins’ allegations in parliament, more so than paying attention to the Logie awards.

‘It was a drop in the ocean given everything else that was already being said about Mr Lehrmann,’ she said.

‘You’d think people in Canberra would remember what ministers said – you’d think that would be more memorable to a jury than whatever my client said at the Logies.’

Justice Lee said: ‘It’s the one that caused the case to be adjourned.’

Ms Chrysanthou then brought the argument back to the legal advice sought by Wilkinson, prior to the speech.

She pointed out that Wilkinson also sought advice from the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, and said her client gave evidence about that in court and was unchallenged on it by Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers.

Justice Lee said: ‘I can’t believe that someone who read that speech didn’t say, “you’ve got to be kidding”.’

Ms Chrysanthou quickly said: ‘It’s unchallenged evidence, your honour.’

Judge says Bruce Lehrmann ‘may not have been playing straight bat with his girlfriend’ when he went back to Parliament House with Brittany Higgins

Justice Lee said that he will have to consider how a 23-year-old male – Bruce Lehrmann, in this case – would behave after a night of drinking, with a woman he potentially found attractive.

Lisa Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC pointed to the fact that Mr Lehrmann had a girlfriend as of March 22, 2019, who he lived with.

She called him about six times that evening.

Mr Lehrmann said he left Parliament House that night, after making notes on Question Time briefs, because she was phoning him.

Ms Chrysanthou pointed out that he didn’t call her back that night.

Justice Lee said he had asked Mr Lehrmann a few questions when he was on the witness stand.

‘I said, “You’re going out on a Friday night, you’re going out to drinks … You’re behaving a way that might be inconsistent with having a monogamous relationship”,’ he said.

Ms Chrysanthou pointed to that section of the official transcript where Mr Lehrmann replied: ‘He said, “I wouldn’t have behaved that way”.’

Justice Lee pointed to the evidence of Lauren Gain, who was drinking with Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann that evening.

Ms Gain told the court she saw them passionately kissing and touching.

‘If I accept Ms Gain’s evidence, the pashing evidence … It’s about the inherent way he would behave the way he did, and I’ve got to accept his explanation for not speaking to his girlfriend because his phone was on silent,’ he said.

Ms Chrysanthou said: ‘He doesn’t ring his girlfriend, he doesn’t call her to ask if she can open the door, he makes no attempt to contact her at all.’

Justice Lee said: ‘You would say that’s a factor – 23-year-old male, drinking, previously thought Higgins was attractive, shortly before going to Parliament House, all over each other and kissing, no contact with his girlfriend.

‘That’s a series of factors that he may not have been playing straight bat with his girlfriend when he went back to Parliament House.

‘Putting those things together, for a 23-year-old male, it’s more likely they had sex.’

Justice Lee could find that he doesn’t know whether Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins

Lisa Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC is giving her closing submissions to the court.

Ms Chrysanthou was referring to the fact that everything that happened before and after 22 and 23 March, 2019, did not speak to the truth of whether Brittany Higgins was raped or not.

She said everything in evidence that happened outside those dates goes to the credit of each witness.

Referring to The Project’s truth defence, she said ‘you don’t get second prize if some of the stuff you publish is correct.’

Justice Lee said Bruce Lehrmann would win the case if he is unable to find that a rape took place, or if he is unable to determine whether the rape took place one way or the other.

Inside Lisa Wilkinson, David Sharaz and Brittany Higgins’ group chat: Texts emerge between Project presenter and couple

New WhatsApp messages between Lisa Wilkinson, Brittany Higgins and her fiancé David Sharaz were released by the Federal Court on Thursday.

In the exchanges Mr Sharaz sent a group text message to The Project’s host Lisa Wilkinson and the show’s producer Angus Llewellyn thanking them for their treatment of Ms Higgins in the five-hour meeting that preceded the interview at the heart of the defamation proceedings.

‘Lisa and Angus, I can’t thank you enough for the care and compassion you showed Britt today,’ Mr Sharaz writes.

‘You both left and she said, ‘This feel right. It’s the right thing to do’.’

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Wilkinson replies in the group text: ‘I’m so glad you are both happy with where things are up to.. and that Brittany is feeling positive – and most importantly, comfortable with proceeding.

‘Enjoy that lovely room and we’ll talk again soon,’ she signed off, with a praying hands emoji.

It’s understood Ms Higgins and Ms Sharaz were staying at the Darling Hotel in Pyrmont, inner Sydney – the source of Wilkinson’s ‘lovely room’ reference – where the marathon pre-interview meeting took place.

The texts were revealed as the former Liberal staffer and her fiancé arrived in Paris as part of their relocation to France to begin a new life.

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Judge’s damning assessment of Bruce Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins’ evidence

During closing submissions on Thursday, Justice Lee told the court that parts of Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann’s evidence in the trial can’t be relied upon.

‘The two principal witnesses have real credit issues and various parts of each witness’ evidence simply can’t be accepted,’ Justice Lee said.

‘And various parts of each witness’s evidence simply can’t be accepted, it seems to me,’ he continued.

‘And we agree,’ Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC replied.

He added: ‘In respect of both key protagonists, we will seek to persuade Your Honour that there was a qualitative difference between the dishonesty of Mr Lehrmann and the successful credit attacks that were levelled at Ms Higgins.’

Dr Collins said their separate accounts of what happened on the evening of March 23, 2019, are ‘utterly irreconcilable’.

‘Successful attacks were made in cross-examination on the credit of both Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins, but we would submit that the success of those attacks was qualitatively different.

‘Mr Lehrmann was revealed to be a fundamentally dishonest man who was prepared to say and do anything that he perceived to advance his interests.

‘He was wholly unconcerned with giving the court an honest account of the events of the 22nd and 23rd March 2019.

‘Remarkably, he is an applicant who seeks the aid of the court to vindicate his reputation in respect of a report of an event, in circumstances where he’s given false evidence, we will submit knowingly false evidence, in respect of almost every significant integer concerning that event.’

If Brittany Higgins lied to keep her job, ‘she committed the perfect crime’

Network Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC told the court that Brittany Higgins had no reason to lie about her alleged assault to save her job.

His submission was based on a key argument Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyers tried to argue – that Ms Higgins thought she’d lose her job because she entered Parliament House after hours, on March 23, 2019.

Dr Collins said: ‘If Ms Higgins lied to keep her job, she committed the perfect crime.’

He pointed out that she didn’t lose her job, the Liberal Party won the 2019 election, she got a new position in Michaelia Cash’s office and continued to work there until 2021.

He then asked why she would go public with her rape allegation two years after the fact.

Justice Michael Lee describes Brittany Higgins’ fiancé David Sharaz as ‘The prophet Elijah … he’s always around’

Network Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins dismissed the notion that Brittany Higgins lied about the rape allegation to keep her job.

He asked why she would lie to keep her job, because she didn’t lose her job – the Liberal Party won the election and she carried on working in Parliament House for another two years.

‘Why would she then go public with her allegation, two years later?’ he asked.

Justice Lee said her motivations could have changed within that time, and the reason could be due to ‘a myriad of things’.

‘She chooses the mode by which she does that, it’s not to reactivate the Australian Federal Police complaint, it’s to use the medium of her boyfriend,’ he said.

‘To do it in such a way as to go to the media … and impact, what is clear, was a design to inflict maximum political damage, in the context of doing it, again, I presume, arguably to obtain a greater end – cultural change in the parliament.’ he said.

The judge said she could have met people who encouraged her to go public, before he mentioned her fiancé David Sharaz – who was not called to give evidence because he was not in Ms Higgins’ life at the time of the alleged assault.

‘Mr Sharaz is like the prophet Elijah – he’s always around,’ Justice Lee said, prompting laughs from the courtroom.

‘There’s a place for him at the passover table but he never turns up.’

He continued: ‘She goes to the police and arguably that was only something that was necessary for the final tick to be given.’

Justice Lee’s reference was to Elijah, a Biblical prophet from the time of Jesus who lived a long life performing miracles and driving evil from the world before patiently waiting for God to take him into heaven.

Elijah was eventually ‘taken up into the heavens in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses’.

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Network Ten says Brittany Higgins’ inconsistencies are forgivable because she was traumatised

In his closing submissions, Network Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC told the court Brittany Higgins’ inconsistencies were due to the trauma of her alleged rape.

He said: ‘The way she came across was also consistent with someone suffering a very deep trauma.’

Dr Collins said her emotional state ‘did result in speeches in the witness box, that Your Honour pulled her up on, but they were consistent’.

‘All that becomes explicable – she’s been questioned, called a liar in multiple forums over the years, because [what happened to her] is unforgivable,’ he said.

Justice Lee asked whether Dr Collins was asking him to disregard any doubts he had about the truth of Ms Higgins’ evidence because it was consistent with trauma.

He said that her inconsistencies revolved around smaller issues – like whether her dress was on or off when she woke up in Linda Reynolds’ office, and where she found a box of Roses chocolates that morning.

Justice Lee said: ‘Yes, I did find the focus on the chocolates somewhat curious.’

The judge pointed out that his comments to senior counsel during closing submissions were not because he agreed with what they were saying, only to test the validity of the submissions.

Dr Collins said the notion that Ms Higgins fabricated a rape allegation to save her job was ‘monstrous’ and inconsistent with texts she sent to her boss Fiona Brown, and ex-boyfriend Ben Dillaway.

He described Mr Lehrmann’s demeanor as ‘combative and defensive’ in the witness box.

‘The problems with his credit are so endemic,’ he said.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever made the submission in respect of a plaintiff in a defamation case, we would say Your Honour would approach the entirety of his evidence with extreme suspicion and would reject it unless there’s a cogent foundation for it.’

Bruce Lehrmann labelled ‘fundamentally dishonest’ – telling his boss ‘I don’t want to go into that’ when asked what he did at Parliament House at 1.30am

Bruce Lehrmann said ‘I don’t want to go into that’ when asked what he did at Parliament House at 1.30am on March 23, 2019.

Network Ten barrister Matthew Collins KC began his closing submissions on Thursday by telling Justice Michael Lee he should be satisfied that the truth defence has been successful.

He said, ‘If your honour is satisfied there was sexual intercourse, what has happened here is monstrous. Absolutely monstrous.’

‘On (Brittany) Higgins’ account, there’s a vivid description of sexual assault, on Mr Lehrmann’s account, there is no sexual activity, consensual or otherwise whatsoever,’ he said.

‘And therefore, your honest assessment of credibility and reliability of the two key protagonists is central.’

He told the court Mr Lehrmann was ‘wholly unconcerned with giving … an honest account of the events of the 22nd and 23rd March 2019’.

Mr Lehrmann was revealed to be ‘a fundamentally dishonest man’ throughout the trial, and made a number of ‘bizarre lies’, Dr Collins argued.

Dr Collins also argued Mr Lehrmann had used the ‘court to vindicate his reputation in respect of a report of an event’ and has ‘knowingly given false evidence in respect of almost every significant integer concerning that event’.

He explained that Mr Lehrmann’s first instinct when he had a meeting with his boss, Fiona Brown, on March 26, 2019 – three days after the alleged assault – was to lie, and pointed out that Ms Brown made notes just after that meeting.

When Ms Brown asked what else he did when he entered Parliament House after hours with Ms Higgins that night, he said: ‘I don’t want to go into that.’

Dr Collins also pointed to evidence given by their former colleague who told the court she saw Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann kissing passionately at a nightclub, just hours before the alleged assault.

‘Mr Lehrmann was attracted to Ms Higgins, he asked her to skoll a drink, they pashed,’ Dr Collins said.

‘Mr Lehrmann had a girlfriend at home, Ms Higgins has got a housemate, they have access to Parliament House.’

Brittany Higgins and David Sharaz land in France

Brittany Higgins and David Sharaz landed at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport on Tuesday night, having ditched their matching suffragette white garbs for black.

They were pictured wearily pushing about six suitcases across the terminal – ready to start their new lives in Lunas, a tiny town near Bordeaux in the south of France.

The couple will bringing their cavoodle, Kingston, to live with them.

The former staffer received about $2.4million from the taxpayer in 2022 based on claims her political career was in ruins after she alleged she was raped by former colleague Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House in 2019.

Last month, Daily Mail Australia revealed the couple were vacating their Palm Beach rental on the Gold Coast to uproot their lives for the sprawling countryside – away from the spotlight.

On October 2, Mr Sharaz posted in a public Facebook group for English-speaking residents hoping to connect with Francophones in the Dordogne region.

‘Hello, I’m looking for someone to do some gardening for us over the next couple of months. Perhaps once or twice a fortnight. We’re in Lunas,’ he wrote.

About a month later, on November 5, he asked members of the same group if anyone could help him fast-track his French language skills.

‘Hello! I’m hoping to start to learn the language and while my plan of using French movies with subtitles might work over a decade, I’m looking to speed it up!’ he wrote.

‘Does anyone know any good French tutors?’

Ms Higgins has since followed a range of French language pages on Instagram.

Follow Daily Mail Australia’s coverage of the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case against Lisa Wilkinson and Network Ten

Bruce Lehrmann is suing Lisa Wilkinson and Network 10 in the Federal Court over her 2021 interview with Brittany Higgins where she alleged he raped her in Parliament House in 2019.

He was not named, but claims friends and former colleagues were able to identify him as the alleged rapist.

He has continually maintained his innocence.

The evidence concluded on Tuesday.

Closing submissions will be heard on Thursday and Friday.

Key Updates

  • Lisa Wilkinson’s lawyer said it wasn’t the TV star’s job to be copied into high-level discussions at The Project

  • Justice Lee said The Project broadcast was ‘pregnant’ with suggestions that Brittany Higgins was blocked from making a rape complaint

  • Lisa Wilkinson had ‘limited’ input in The Project broadcast, she wasn’t copied into 90 per cent of emails, her suggestions weren’t taken up, and she had no decision-making power … but she accepted a Logie for it anyway

  • Lisa Wilkinson’s lawyer says her disastrous Logies speech was ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared with everything else being said about Bruce Lehrmann

  • Judge says Bruce Lehrmann ‘may not have been playing straight bat with his girlfriend’ when he went back to Parliament House with Brittany Higgins

  • Justice Lee could find that he doesn’t know whether Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins

  • If Brittany Higgins lied to keep her job, ‘she committed the perfect crime’

  • Justice Michael Lee describes Brittany Higgins’ fiancé David Sharaz as ‘The prophet Elijah … he’s always around’

  • Network Ten says Brittany Higgins’ inconsistencies are forgivable because she was traumatised

  • Bruce Lehrmann labelled ‘fundamentally dishonest’ – telling his boss ‘I don’t want to go into that’ when asked what he did at Parliament House at 1.30am

READ MORE: Linda Reynolds’ extraordinary move to freeze Brittany Higgins’ assets after she left Australia to start a new life in France with fiance David Sharaz

READ MORE: Meet Bruce Lehrmann’s mysterious mentor: How Lyndon Biernoff quietly supported the accused rapist in his court battles – as their texts in his darkest hour are revealed

READ MORE: Brittany Higgins’ ‘traumatised’ boss opens up about the text that made her world fall apart and staffer’s demeanour at a meeting days after alleged rape



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