Lisa Wilkinson has hired her own team to defend her in the libel case against Bruce Lehrmann because Network 10’s lawyer called her Logies speech “ill-advised” on Sunrise.
Mr Lehrmann launched civil action against the network in February over a 2021 episode of The Project on Channel 10, during which Brittany Higgins alleged he had raped her in Parliament two years previously.
He was not named in the programme, but people in parliamentary circles were able to identify him as Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist. He has consistently denied these allegations.
Wilkinson was employed by Network 10 and was entitled to use Thomson Geer, the network’s law firm, but she decided to hire Sue Chrysanthou SC and Anthony Jefferies, a partner at Gillis Delaney Lawyers.
She billed the network more than $700,000 and is now suing the network for non-payment of the fees.
Now Daily Mail Australia understands she chose to hire her own team because Thomson Geer’s Matthew Collins SC criticized her on Seven’s Sunrise breakfast program on June 23, 2022 – the day after her Logies speech .
Four hours later, Network 10 hired him to fight the defamation case against Mr. Lehrmann.
Lisa Wilkinson has hired her own team to defend her libel case against Bruce Lehrmann (pictured giving her speech on Logies)
Speaking to Natalie Barr and David Koch, Dr Collins said: “It is certainly possible that the authorities will review the speech she gave to the Logies and assess that speech against the standards that apply in this branch law.
“That standard is: Did anything she did tend to interfere with the administration of justice? »
Dr Collins had said he believed Wilkinson – who has worked in the media industry for more than 40 years – should have held back from giving the speech she gave at the Logies.
“One would hope that every time the media considers publishing a story about a serious criminal trial that is about to begin, they will be aware of the potential risks,” he said.
“The mainstream media, you guys, understand the inherent risk of talking about cases that are about to go to trial in court, especially high-profile cases. So clearly this was not wise.
Dr Collins explained that anyone facing a serious charge was entitled to the presumption of innocence, which meant there should be no preconceived notions one way or the other.
“The problem is that potential jury members whose job is to apply the presumption of innocence and focus on the trial evidence could be influenced by things they have been exposed to in the media and on social media. “
Wilkinson hired her own team because defamation expert Matthew Collins SC (pictured on Sunrise in June 2022) criticized her on the Seven Network breakfast program.
Ms Higgins (right) alleged she was raped by a former Parliament colleague in 2019, in an interview with Lisa Wilkinson (left)
Wilkinson won his Logie for his interview with Ms Higgins and his speech was broadcast on national television, just days before Mr Lehrmann’s jury trial began in the ACT Supreme Court.
She did not mention Mr. Lehrmann by name in her speech, but she suggested that the allegations against him were true.
Chief Justice Lucy McCallum ruled that the speech could potentially bias jurors against Mr. Lehrmann, moved the trial to October and leveled sharp criticism at Wilkinson.
Earlier on Thursday, it was revealed Wilkinson had launched a civil action in the NSW Supreme Court against Network 10 for legal costs.
According to court documents, her legal team claims that in March and June of this year, the network accepted that it was required to compensate the TV star even though she was “independently represented.”
The channel had initially asked to pay Wilkinson’s legal costs in bulk at the end of the trial to allow it to add any costs incurred in favor of Mr Lehrmann.
Wilkinson’s lawyers said this was unreasonable because it would leave her paying for her own defense until she was reimbursed.
A Network 10 spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia: “The lawyers engaged by Lisa Wilkinson have issued invoices of a very significant amount, in excess of $700,000, and in the interest of good governance, these must be justified by due process.
“In the meantime, Network 10 is focused on defending the defamation suit filed by Bruce Lehrmann.”
Wilkinson’s trial against Network 10 will begin in the NSW Supreme Court on November 3.
Two weeks later, on November 20, Mr Lehrmann’s defamation trial will begin in the Federal Court in Sydney.
Mr Lehrmann (pictured) has always denied having any sexual interaction with Brittany Higgins