Bruce Lehrmann appeals devastating defamation loss

Friday is the last day for Bruce Lehrmann to file an appeal in his defamation case.

Friday is the last day for Bruce Lehrmann to file an appeal in his defamation case. Photo: AAP

Bruce Lehrmann has reportedly filed an appeal in his losing defamation case against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.

The Nine newspapers and The Guardian reported shortly after 4pm on Friday that the former federal Liberal staffer had lodged an appeal against his devastating defamation loss in the Federal Court.

It came on the very last day of Lehrmann’s appeal period and followed barrister David Helvadjian seeking an extension of time to allow for consideration of the lengthy judgment and the more than 1000 exhibits in the case.

“New senior counsel has been briefed to provide advice on prospects,” he told Justice Michael Lee earlier this month.

Friday’s appeal followed revelations that Wilkinson’s successful defence of the defamation case came at a price, with the prominent journalist spending up to $8000 a day on her top silk.

It remains unclear if Lehrmann has the funds to support the appeal. It was revealed in earlier court hearings that his lawyers had taken his case on a “no win, no fee” basis, and he had no financial backers.

The Federal Court is yet to rule on who should foot a legal bill already expected to as high as $6 million-$8 million for the long-running and high-profile case.

On Thursday, the Federal Court heard that former The Project star Wilkinson spent just over $1.8 million in defending the case and was hoping to foist the vast amount of the sum on Lehrmann after his spectacular loss.

Retainer agreements Wilkinson had with prominent silk Sue Chrysanthou SC and her junior, Barry Dean, showed the senior barrister charged $8000 for each full day of the long-running defamation trial.

Chrysanthou also had a minimum charge of $4000 if the day in court wrapped up before lunch, documents released on Thursday showed.

Shorter court appearances were billed at $800.

Dean charged $3500 for each day of the trial and $350 for brief court appearances.

Wilkinson also retained Gillis Delaney as her solicitors. The firm charged hourly rates of up to $750 if a partner worked on her case.

The court published the documents as the parties work out who will bear what share of costs in the defamation case, which Lehrmann lost in April.

Lee found the 28-year-old had not been defamed by a Network Ten report detailing Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations. He found the allegations that Lehrmann sexually assaulted her in a Parliament House office were true on the balance of probabilities.

Higgins was interviewed by Wilkinson for an episode of The Project that aired in February 2021.

She told Ten that she had been raped by Lehrmann in the office of their then-boss, Senator Linda Reynolds, in March 2019, a claim he has always denied.

In May, Lee ordered Lehrmann to pay the legal bills of Ten and Wilkinson on an indemnity basis, which is higher than ordinary costs.

The judge found Lehrmann brought his case on a false basis and had lied to police and the jury during his criminal trial, which was eventually abandoned due to juror misconduct.

While Wilkinson is seeking $1.8 million in costs, it is not yet known how much Ten’s legal expenses will be.

Ten will cover any costs of Wilkinson’s that are deemed reasonable and will then pass that bill on to Lehrmann.

On Monday, Justice Lee noted there could be a “limited prospect” that the ex-political staffer would be able to pay back these amounts.

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-with AAP

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