Lisa Wilkinson seeks to overturn findings against her in Lehrmann case

Lisa Wilkinson is seeking to overturn Justice Michael Lee’s findings against her professional conduct during Bruce Lehrmann’s failed defamation case against her and Network Ten.

Wilkins filed a notice of contention filed with the Federal Court on Wednesday, alleging that Justice Lee made more than 50 errors in his ruling, including his finding that Wilkinson and The Project team had failed in their defence of qualified privilege.

During his findings, Lee noted Wilkinson’s history of publicly “celebrating and lending credence” to Higgins’ story, and “a lack of candour in the witness box” in admitting as such.

He also blasted her for not seeking comment from Lehrmann before airing Higgins’ allegations.

“He was not living the life of a hermit,” Lee said. “He was working for a public relations firm in Sydney” – saying that both Wilkinson and producer Angus Llewellyn “started from the premise that what Ms. Higgins said about her allegations was necessarily true”.

“They resolved from the start to publish the exclusive story and were content to do the minimum required to reduce unacceptable litigation risk,” Lee said.

Wilkinson had separate representation to Network Ten during the trial, and is only disputing the findings made against her – not those against Ten or Llewellyn. She is arguing the qualified privilege defence “should have been found to have been established”.

Network 10 released a statement shortly after the findings, saying “this judgement is a triumph for truth.”

Following this celebration, Justice Lee took aim at the network again.

“There are various aspects of the conduct of Network Ten which cause me concern,” Lee said during the decision on Lehrmann’s costs, pointing to “the various assertions of Network Ten spokesman immediately after the judgment, and without even reading the judgment”.

He added: “Notwithstanding that Network Ten apparently thought it appropriate for a period of 48 hours following the delivery of the judgment to go around and effectively say it had been vindicated in relation to all aspects of its conduct.

“That was quite misleading. I made it perfectly plain that what occurred in this case was that the respondents fell well short of a standard of reasonableness in the credulous why they went to bed reporting these allegations, and I was quite clear about that.”


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