Home Australia Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson’s conspiracy theories about Bruce Lehrmann’s secret financier

Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson’s conspiracy theories about Bruce Lehrmann’s secret financier

by Elijah
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Bruce Lehrmann's legal representation during the defamation case was on a no-win, no-fee basis. He is pictured outside the Federal Court with barrister Steven Whybrow SC (right)

EXCLUSIVE

Handwritten notes reveal that Lisa Wilkinson and Network Ten appeared to falsely believe that Bruce Lehrmann’s legal costs were covered by mining billionaire Gina Rinehart and a men’s rights activist.

The notes were submitted to the Federal Court in Wilkinson’s civil dispute against the network for approximately $1 million of his own legal fees.

They were written by the network’s senior litigator, Tasha Smithies, following a conversation with Wilkinson on December 7, 2022, six days after Mr Lehrmann’s rape charge was dropped by the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was also the day after Lehrmann announced he had joined forces with commercial litigation firm Mark O’Brien Legal and was considering launching a defamation lawsuit against Wilkinson and Network Ten.

Theories about Mr. Lehrmann’s representation were briefly described in a box at the back of a notebook, with a line suggesting he was being “financed by Bettina Arndt and Gina Rinehart.”

Another set of notes taken during a meeting with Wilkinson and Ten’s legal team about two months later suggested that Lehrmann was “being financed by someone with a lot of money”.

Bruce Lehrmann's legal representation during the defamation case was on a no-win, no-fee basis. He is pictured outside the Federal Court with barrister Steven Whybrow SC (right)

Legal representation of Bruce Lehrmann during the defamation case was provided without any benefits or fees. He is pictured outside the Federal Court with barrister Steven Whybrow SC (right)

Pictured: A handwritten note from Ten’s lawyer, Tasha Smithies. The note says Lehrmann was “financed by Bettina Arndt and Gina Rinehart.”

However, the speculation was wrong: Mark O’Brien Legal acted for Mr Lehrmann on a no-profit basis, meaning the firm will only receive payment if the case is successful.

Lawyers who represented Mr. Lehrmann during his criminal trial in October 2022 worked pro bono.

A spokesperson for Ms Rinehart told Daily Mail Australia the mining magnate “did not provide any funding or support, and she never has”.

When Mrs Arndt was asked the same question, she said: ‘Keep dreaming! I have not paid a single cent to Lehrmann’s defamation lawyers.

Ms Arndt, a strong supporter of men’s rights, personally supported Mr Lehrmann and appeared at the Federal Court in December last year during the first day of his defamation trial against Wilkinson and Network Ten.

The note speculated that Mark O’Brien Legal was “seeking attorneys” to represent Mr. Lehrmann in court.

Pictured: Tasha Smithies, Senior Litigation Attorney at Network Ten

Pictured: Tasha Smithies, Senior Litigation Attorney at Network Ten

Pictured: Tasha Smithies, Senior Litigation Attorney at Network Ten

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured with her own legal counsel, Sue Chrysanthou SC, outside the Federal Court last week.

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured with her own legal counsel, Sue Chrysanthou SC, outside the Federal Court last week.

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured with her own legal counsel, Sue Chrysanthou SC, outside the Federal Court last week.

There was another note suggesting that Sue Chrysanthou SC and solicitor Rebekah Giles were unable to represent Mr Lehrmann due to a conflict of interest.

Ms Chrysanthou ended up representing Wilkinson in the same matter.

Another meeting took place about two months later, on February 8 of last year, the day after Lehrmann filed a defamation lawsuit against Wilkinson and the network.

That conversation was between Conor O’Beirne, a lawyer who acts for the network, and Wilkinson.

O’Beirne wrote two pages of notes during that meeting, which included ideas ranging from how the network could defend the defamation claim to theories about how Lehrmann could be funding the case.

One note said: “Lehrmann is being financed by someone with a lot of money.”

When asked about that particular suggestion, Mr. Lehrmann said: “It must have been handguns if they had a lot of money.”

Brittany Higgins is pictured with Lisa Wilkinson after The Project interview in 2021

Brittany Higgins is pictured with Lisa Wilkinson after The Project interview in 2021

Brittany Higgins is pictured with Lisa Wilkinson after The Project interview in 2021

‘My team has been driving an admirable desire to protect the rule of law.

‘Maybe it’s time to remove the Kool-Aid from the [Channel Ten] office and improve intelligence gathering.’

Lehrmann sued Ten and Wilkinson over his interview with Brittany Higgins on The Project in 2021, in which the former political staffer publicly alleged that Lehrmann raped her in Parliament in 2019.

He was not named in that broadcast, but claimed that friends and colleagues were able to identify him as the alleged rapist.

Mr. Lehrmann has always denied the allegations.

Wilkinson then successfully sued Network Ten for fees associated with hiring Ms Chrysanthou to defend her in the defamation matter, rather than joining her employer’s defense and using Thomson Geer.

The defamation hearing concluded in December and Judge Lee has yet to rule.

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