Bruce Lehrmann headlines $100-a-ticket speakers’ event

Bruce Lehrmann is set to learn how much of Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson's costs he has to pay.

Bruce Lehrmann is set to learn how much of Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson's costs he has to pay. Photo: Getty

Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann will be a headline speaker at an event organised by men’s right activist Bettina Arndt, it has been revealed.

Tickets to hear Lehrmann speak at the Restoring the Presumption of Innocence Conference in Sydney are expected to cost $80-$100.

Arndt revealed the lineup for the June 1 conference in her blog.

“Equality before the law no longer exists in Australia. The presumption of innocence has been tossed aside – totally discarded by our biased media and undermined by regular legislative tampering with basic principles of justice,” she wrote.

“It’s the perfect time to seize the moment, and bring together some of the real experts to tell the story of what is going on here. And to talk about what’s needed to achieve a fair system.”

The conference is hosted by the Victorian-based Australians for Science and Freedom, whose website says it stands for free speech, intellectual and academic freedom, bodily autonomy, equality (equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes), and a search for truth via open discourse and the scientific method.

bettina arndt

Conference organiser Bettina Arndt says Bruce Lehrmann’s life has been “upturned” by Brittany Higgins’ allegations.

The event is sponsored by Mothers of Sons, an organisation Arndt writes that she helped to set up. According to its website, it is “a group of ordinary women whose sons have faced extraordinary ordeals in our unjust, anti-male legal systems and workplaces”.

“What a line-up we have for you, in this one-day event crammed with presentations by many of the brave souls who have long been speaking out about ongoing injustice in our courts,” Arndt writes of the conference.

Other speakers listed include former NSW state prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC, former Perth law reform commissioner Professor Augusto Zimmerman and Rule of Law Institute vice-president and conservative media commentator Chris Merritt.

Arndt said Lehrmann “had his life upturned by Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation” and was “eagerly awaiting” a decision in his long-running defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

Last week the case was reopened for two days of hearings described by Justice Michael Lee as “Gatling gun allegations”, including claims that Lehrmann leaked Higgins’ confidential text messages to the media.

Seven Network producer Taylor Auerbach claimed he was leaked the messages by Lehrmann while courting him for an exclusive, tell-all interview.

The messages came from police documents compiled prior to Lehrmann’s failed criminal trial in which he was accused of raping Higgins.

Lawyer for Ten, Matthew Collins KC, described Lehrmann having leaked the messages as the “obvious explanation” for Auerbach having them.

Auerbach also told the court he saw Lehrmann buying cocaine and ordering sex workers to a Sydney hotel paid for by Seven.

Lehrmann later sent a $750 invoice to Ten, listing “pre-production expenses”, which Auerbach said he understood to be reimbursement for the activities. Seven also paid for dinners, hotels, massages and a golf trip for Lehrmann, as well as renting him a house in Sydney’s Randwick, according to an affidavit from Auerbach.

The court was told there were discussions around the time of Lehrmann’s 2022 criminal trial that he could be paid in the order of $200,000 for the interview.

The trial in the ACT Supreme Court was derailed due to juror misconduct. Prosecutors abandoned a second trial amid fears for Higgins’ mental health.

Lehrmann has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Seven has broadly denied Auerbach’s allegations, labelling them “false and misleading” and adding that it did not reveal journalists’ sources.

On Friday, Auerbach told the Federal Court he met Lehrmann’s representative John MacGowan in October 2022 to discuss the interview.

“I was in Canberra for the criminal trial between Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins,” he said.

“We talked about the fact that Mr Lehrmann had many legal fees and needed to be compensated.”

Rather than pay Lehrmann directly, they discussed paying the money into a trust under a different name, the court was told.

Also last Friday, Lee said there was a large amount of new material for him to consider. A judgment is possible later this week.

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National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

-with AAP

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