<div>Lehrmann to pay most of Ten’s costs for doomed defamation case</div>

Lehrmann to pay most of Ten’s costs for doomed defamation case

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Bruce Lehrmann has been ordered to pay almost all of Ten’s multimillion-dollar legal bill after his doomed defamation case against the network.

In April, the ex-Liberal staffer suffered a massive legal loss after the Federal Court found an allegation that he raped Brittany Higgins in a Parliament House office in March 2019 was most likely true.

The 28-year-old had sued for defamation over a February 2021 report on The Project, in which journalist Lisa Wilkinson interviewed Higgins over the rape allegation.

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Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the Federal Court

Since the findings against Lehrmann, the parties have been in dispute over the legal costs and who should foot what is expected to amount to a sizeable legal bill for the long-running and high-profile case.

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On Friday afternoon, Justice Michael Lee found in favour of Ten’s application for indemnity costs for most of the trial. 

Lehrmann was ordered to pay for the network’s and Wilkinson’s costs on an ordinary and indemnity basis, but he will not have to pay costs for some affidavits.

“In the end, it comes down to the order for costs that best does overall justice in the circumstances,” Lee told the court.

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Lisa Wilkinson arrives at the Federal Court

“On balance, the appropriate exercise of discretion is to make an award that Network Ten recover its costs against Mr Lehrmann on an indemnity basis, except for costs incurred in relation to the statutory qualified privilege defence.”

In explaining his decision, the judge said he found Lehrmann had defended the criminal charge “on a false basis, lied to police, and then allowed that lie to go uncorrected before the jury”.

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“He wrongly instructed his senior counsel to cross-examine a complainant of sexual assault, in two legal proceedings, including, relevantly for present purposes, this case, on a knowingly false premise,” he said.

Lehrmann denies he sexually assaulted Higgins and was not convicted in a criminal trial. 

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The total amount he will have to pay will be determined at a hearing later in May.

Lee also noted “there are no real winners” in the case.

“Of course, with the predictability of an atomic clock, partisans have focused solely on those parts of the judgment that happen to align with preconceived notions,” he said. 

He accused Ten’s lawyers of going on a “victory tour” after his judgment was delivered in April.

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Earlier in the week, the court heard Lehrmann had no financial backers and that his lawyers had agreed they did not need to be paid if he lost the case.

The costs matter will return to the court for a case management hearing on May 27.

Lehrmann has until May 31 to appeal the defamation case finding.

Support is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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