Ten’s bid in Lehrmann trial may delay judgment

The judge in Bruce Lehrmann's defamation trial is poised to make a ruling on the admission of further evidence.

The judge in Bruce Lehrmann's defamation trial is poised to make a ruling on the admission of further evidence. Photo: AAP

A judge is poised to decide whether to the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case can be reopened in the latest twist in the long-running case.

The decision, which may lead to a delay in Thursday morning’s scheduled judgment, will be made later on Tuesday.

It follows a bombshell application by Ten’s lawyers on Sunday, seeking to reopen the multimillion-dollar case so fresh evidence can be admitted for Justice Michael Lee’s consideration.

Lee will hear the application at 5pm on Tuesday (AEDT).

Reports on Tuesday suggested the new evidence relates to a lengthy affidavit from former Seven producer Taylor Auerbach. He has reportedly given Ten further details about his interactions with Lehrmann before last May’s exclusive interview with Seven’s Spotlight program.

News Corp reports that Auerbach’s affidavit – described as “an extraordinary trove” – is 2000 pages long. It apparently outlines how Seven obtained material for its Spotlight interview.

Lee can decide to disregard Auerbach’s affidavit and continue with Thursday’s judgment.

But he can also allow for Lehrmann’s lawyers to make written submissions; or he could put Auerbach in the witness box and potentially even recall Lehrmann.

Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over a February 2021 report on The Project where Brittany Higgins was interviewed about her alleged raped in a Parliament House office in March 2019.

Lehrmann was not named on the report. But his case is that he was easily identifiable. He has sought extensive damages, saying Ten’s report destroyed his reputation.

The defamation trial against Ten concluded in December. Lee has been deliberating since on the evidence presented.

Lehrmann also sued News Corp and the ABC over their coverage of Higgins’ allegations.

Both these cases have settled, with the ex-Liberal staffer receiving $445,000 in legal costs under the agreements.

Lehrmann’s trial for the rape of Higgins was abandoned due to juror misconduct. Prosecutors opted against a new trial out of concern for Higgins’ welfare.

-with AAP

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