[B&T has updated this story.] Bruce Lehrmann, the Liberal staffer accused of sexually assaulting colleague Brittany Higgins at Canberra’s Parliament House, has settled his defamation case against News Corp and News.com.au’s national political editor Samantha Maiden.
In early February this year, Lehrmann launched defamation action against News Corp’s News Life Media that publishes News.com.au, and Maiden as well as Network 10 and its presenter Lisa Wilkinson.
The Lehrmann rape trial captivated the nation until it was abandoned in early December. Lehrmann subsequently had the charge of rape dropped but this was based primarily on the fact that prosecutors felt if the trail continued there was an “unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant” (that being Higgins).
Yesterday, Lehrmann’s team settled with News Life Media and Maiden. It has been reported that Lehrmann received no damages payout, but a “contribution” was made to his legal costs.
For its part, News.com.au stands by its reporting, however has agreed to update the two offending articles that remain online.
There had been reports that Lehrmann’s unpaid legal bill was nudging the $2 million-mark, while Higgins has denied media reports that she was paid as much as $3 million in compensation by the Commonwealth.
The 28-year-old has now agreed to a tell-all interview with the 7 News Spotlight program to air this Sunday which is certain to be a ratings bonanza for the network.
As reported on B&T back in December, Seven was the frontrunner to secure the interview after reportedly dangling a $250,000 carrot at Lehrmann and his legal team.
However, Seven has denied any payments were made to either Lehrmann or his legal team for Sunday’s interview.
In a statement to B&T, a spokesperson said: “7NEWS Spotlight made no payment to Bruce Lehrmann for the interview, however the program assisted with accommodation as part of the filming of the report.”
— 7NEWS Spotlight (@7NewsSpotlight) May 30, 2023
“Despite the headlines, Bruce Lehrmann has never told his side of the story, not one single word,” a promo for Sunday’s program said.
Lehrmann’s defamation against Network 10 and The Project host Lisa Wilkinson will proceed. Wilkinson has not appeared on-air since November with reports this week 10 chiefs have banned her from returning to TV screens until 2024.
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