Lisa Wilkinson’s lawyer attempted to obtain Bruce Lehrmann’s phone records dating back to 2017, but the request was denied.
Lisa Wilkinson’s lawyer was shut down in court while trying to access 39,823 pages of Bruce Lehrmann’s phone records, dating back to 2017, in the latest twist in the former political staffer’s defamation fight against Channel 10 and news. com.au.
Federal Court Judge Michael Lee called the TV star’s team’s request a “fishing expedition” of “no apparent relevance” when reading his reasons for rejecting the request in an interlocutory hearing in Lehrmann’s lawsuit in Federal Court on Thursday.
The phone records were obtained by the Australian Federal Police during an investigation into allegations by Brittany Higgins that he raped her in Parliament in 2019. Lehrmann has always denied the allegations.
Phone data includes not only your messages, but also the apps you opened and the pages you visited, right down to the website cookies stored on your phone.
“This is not some kind of roving investigation into everything Mr. Lehrmann thought or said,” Judge Lee said.
Judge Lee said that some of Lehrmann’s phone records were relevant, but not the six-year-old. Above, Lehrmann in court last week
Ms Wilkinson’s lawyers tried to argue that the records were relevant to Mr Lehrmann’s “state of mind” when he was accused of rape and in the months that followed.
Judge Lee acknowledged that some of the information was probably relevant, but not the six years’ worth.
Lehrmann is suing Wilkinson, both news outlets, and journalist Samantha Maiden for defamation for a television interview and an online article, both published on February 15, 2021, where Higgins alleged that a “male colleague” had raped her in Parliament House in 2019.
He was not named in Ms Higgins’ interview with Lisa Wilkinson in The Project or in the website article, but claims his identity would have been known in political circles.
However, Thursday’s interlocutory hearing is not about whether he was defamed.
It is to try to determine whether Mr. Lehrmann should be allowed to sue beyond the statutory 12-month period of having been allegedly defamed.
Applicants normally have one year from the date of publication to file a defamation case. Lehrmann waited two years to file the defamation suit.
His lawyers argue that it was unreasonable for him to file a lawsuit within the first year.
Wilkinson, news.com.au and Channel Ten have opposed the extension.
Respected defamation lawyer Sue Chrysanthou to appear in court for Lisa Wilkinson
They will argue that it was reasonable for Mr. Lehrmann to initiate a defamation case within the first year of the issuance of the indictments against him.
Lehrmann was represented in court by Matthew Richardson SC on Thursday, who told the court it was unreasonable for him to pursue libel suits while facing a criminal case before a jury.
Richardson was referring to evidence presented at last week’s interlocutory hearing, where Lehrmann said during cross-examination that he “made up” information from text messages to his ex-girlfriend Greta Sinclair while watching The Project at the office of attorney Warwick Korn on February 15.
He told the court that he lied to placate her because she was distraught.
On Thursday morning, Mr Richardson told the court ‘so what’ if he fabricated conversations to make his partner feel better.
In those texts, Mr. Lehrmann told her that he had two lawyers and could potentially win “millions” in any future defamation case.
Richardson told the court on Thursday: “My statement is that of course he was trying to tell his girlfriend and friends that he would be okay, that he would not go to jail, that he would not be prosecuted.” So what?’.
Mr. Lehrmann was called to the witness stand for the first time last week, on the first day of the hearing.
He described his “outrage” when he watched The Project host Lisa Wilkinson’s interview for the first time on the camera of his lawyer Warwick Korn on February 15, 2021.
The hearing followed a six-hour meeting at Mr Korn’s office to discuss the article published on news.com.au earlier that day.
Ms Higgins (pictured) said the phone conversation she recorded with then-employment minister Michaelia Cash was the “strangest” call she had ever had.
Last week, Ten’s attorney, Matthew Collins, was trying to determine whether Mr. Lehrmann conveyed to Ms. Sinclair exactly what Mr. Korn said during their lengthy meeting: ‘What he was doing was faithfully sending contemporary messages to Mrs. Sinclair?’
Mr. Lehrmann intervened: “They were not contemporaries.”
Dr. Collins said: “I caught you because you said that (attorney Warwick) Korn had approached you…”
Mr. Lehrman again chimed in: “It is difficult to remember exactly the nature of the conversation that took place. I was not giving you the exact advice that Mr. Korn was giving me for fear that it would upset you.”
Dr. Collins continued, “You were making up lines from your lawyer.”
Lehrmann agreed: “To placate her, yes.”
The court heard that Lehrmann was “pretty intoxicated” during a six-hour meeting with Korn, during which they watched The Project’s interview.
Following his cross-examination, court documents showing all the text messages he sent and received on the day the news broke were made public.
A message log showed a series of messages that Mr. Lehrmann sent and received later that night after his meeting with the attorney.
Mr. Lehmann sent four consecutive text messages to his friend, saying “I need bags” and “let’s do it.”
Other texts said ‘no one has work tomorrow’, another indicated that someone was ‘paying’ and another message said ‘let’s fire up’.
Then he texted another friend to say ‘come here, it’s good’, followed by another saying: ‘How many bags?’