Bruce Lehrmann has hired a top defamation lawyer as his hit list of media outlets comes into focus, including the ABC for broadcasting Brittany Higgins’ National Press Club address and Lisa Wilkinson over her interview with the ex-staffer.
It comes as Ms Higgins marked her 28th birthday on Wednesday with a coffee delivered to her at her hospital ward by her boyfriend David Sharaz. Daily Mail Australia understands she remains very unwell.
Meanwhile, Mr Lehrmann has retained one of Australia’s most respected defamation specialty law firms, Mark O’Brien Legal, in the wake of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions dropping a sexual assault charge against him.
‘We’re acting in the matter,’ principal solicitor Paul Svilans told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday morning. ‘We’re looking to assess whether there’s a matter that’s actionable.’
It is understood that Mr Lehrmann will give’ strong consideration’ to filing lawsuits against several media companies and Twitter identities.
Daily Mail Australia first reported that Mr Lehrmann’s hit list includes Ms Wilkinson, the production company behind The Project (Rove McManus’s Roving Enterprises), Network Ten and parent company Paramount.
The ABC is also expected to be in the firing line over comments made during the National Press Club appearance in February, 2021 during an address by Ms Higgins and Grace Tame.
Several other mastheads are also expected to be slapped with lawsuits.
On Wednesday, Ms Higgins’ boyfriend David Sharaz uploaded an Instagram story wishing her a happy birthday
Mr Lehrmann (pictured) will work with Sydney defamation specialist Mark O’Brien after it was revealed he was considering suing Channel 10 and Ms Wilkinson personally for defamation over a February 2021 interview on The Project
Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold announced on Friday he would not to go ahead with a second trial against Mr Lehrmann – after the first one was aborted in October due to misconduct by a jury member – amid fears it would negatively affect Ms Higgins’ mental health. Ms Higgins has been in hospital for close to a week.
It had been alleged that Mr Lehrmann raped her inside Parliament House in March 2019.
He pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent at trial and has strenuously denied the allegations against him.
On Wednesday, Ms Higgins’ boyfriend David Sharaz uploaded an Instagram story wishing her a happy birthday.
She also posted happy birthday messages to her own Instagram account – including one from her mother, and close friends.
Ms Higgins first alleged she was raped by a ‘male colleague’ during an interview with Ms Wilkinson in February 2021, which later won the current affairs program a Logie.
Sources with knowledge of the situation said Mr Lehrmann will claim he wasn’t given opportunity to respond to the allegations levelled in the program.
Mr Lehrmann was not publicly named as Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist until six months later, when he was formally charged with sexual assault.
However, Channel 10 has also insisted its news team approached Mr Lehrmann for comment.
A Channel 10 spokesperson on Tuesday said: ‘As is customary, comment was sought but not provided. Network 10 has received no notice of any claim or proceedings.
Channel 10 boss Beverley McGarvey disputed claims from Mr Drumgold that he had warned Ms Wilkinson that her Logies speech (pictured) could potentially delay the first criminal trial
Mr Lehrmann has hired top defamation lawyer Mark O’Brien (pictured) as he pursues potential defamation action against Lisa Wilkinson and other media outlets
Media outlets and individuals who tweeted or shared the emotional speech Ms Higgins made outside the ACT Supreme Court in October after the first trial was aborted could also be in the frame.
This includes publications who shared parts of the speech that referenced the truth of Ms Higgin’s claims or published the monologue in full.
In addition, Mr Lehrmann will also consider launching a formal professional complaint against Mr Drumgold over comments made in his press conference last Friday.
When Mr Drumgold dropped the charges against Mr Lehrmann he restated his belief that there had been ‘reasonable prospects’ to convict him of the offence.
Mr Lehrmann had been earning up to $200,000 a year as a senior adviser for the Liberal party before he lost his job at British American Tobacco in 2021.
The former Liberal staffer has not been able to get a job since the allegations went public, despite applying for several opportunities.
Channel 10 has insisted its news team approached Mr Lehrmann for comment before airing the February 2021 interview with Ms Higgins (pictured with Lisa Wilkinson)
Ms Higgins’ has launched civil cases against the Commonwealth and her former bosses, MP Linda Reynolds and Senator Michaelia Cash are completed.
It is unclear when Mr Lehrmann will file any lawsuit.
It may not be until after Ms Higgins’ own civil cases against the Commonwealth and her former bosses, MP Linda Reynolds and Senator Michaelia Cash are completed.
Ms Higgins’s lawyers have sent documents to all parties setting out an intention to sue for sexual harassment, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, negligence, and victimisation.
She will claim $2.5million for future economic loss, up to $100,000 for past economic loss $100,000 for general damages, $20,000 for future assistance with domestic duties and $150,000 for past and future out-of-pocket expenses.
An official claim is yet to be filed as the involved parties prepare to enter into mediation talks on December 13.
It is understood Noor Blumer, a founding partner of Blumers Lawyers has been quietly negotiating the claim since February. She has declined to comment on the matter or any mediation talks.
Ms Higgins’ lawyer Leon Zwier, who supported her during the criminal case in Canberra, is aware of the claim.