Lisa Wilkinson hired her own team to defend her in the defamation case against Bruce Lehrmann because the lawyer for Network 10 called her Logies speech ‘ill-advised’ on Sunrise.
Mr Lehrmann launched a civil suit against the network in February over an episode of The Project on Channel 10 in 2021, during which Brittany Higgins alleged he had raped her in Parliament House two years prior.
He was not named in the broadcast, but claims people in parliamentary circles were able to identify him as Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist. He has continually denied the allegations.
Wilkinson was employed by Network 10 and was entitled to use Thomson Geer, the law firm the network has on retainer, but she decided to hire Sue Chrysanthou SC and Gillis Delaney Lawyers partner Anthony Jefferies instead.
She invoiced the network for more than $700,000 and is now suing the network for failing to pay the fees.
Now, Daily Mail Australia understands she chose to hire her own team because Thomson Geer’s Matthew Collins SC criticised 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 hired her own team to defend her in the defamation case against Bruce Lehrmann (pictured giving her Logies speech)
Speaking with Natalie Barr and David Koch, Dr Collins said: ‘It’s certainly possible that the authorities will be looking at the speech that she made to the Logies and assessing that speech against the standard which applies in this branch of the law.
‘That standard is, did anything that she do have a tendency to interfere with the administration of justice?’
Dr Collins had said he believed Wilkinson – who has been in the media industry for more than 40 years – should have known better than to make the speech she gave at the Logies.
‘You would hope that whenever the media is contemplating running a story about a serious criminal trial which is about to begin, they would be attune to the potential risks,’ he said.
‘The mainstream media, you guys, understand the risk inherent in talking about cases that are about to go to trial before the court, particularly high-profile cases. So clearly this was ill-advised.’
Dr Collins had explained that anyone facing a serious charge was entitled to the presumption of innocence, which meant there should be no preconceptions one way or the other.
‘The concern is that potential members of the jury whose job is to apply the presumption of innocence and to focus on the evidence in the trial might be influenced by things they’ve been exposed to in the media and in social media.’
Wilkinson hired her own team because defamation specialist Matthew Collins SC (pictured on Sunrise in June, 2022) slammed her on the Seven Network breakfast program
Ms Higgins (right) alleged she was raped by a former colleague in Parliament House in 2019, in an interview with Lisa Wilkinson (left)
Wilkinson won her Logie for her interview with Ms Higgins and her speech was aired on national television, just days before Mr Lehrmann’s jury trial was originally set to begin in the ACT Supreme Court.
She did not mention Mr Lehrmann’s name in her speech, but she implied the allegations against him were true.
Chief Justice Lucy McCallum decided the speech could potentially bias jurors against Mr Lehrmann, moved the trial to October, and directed heavy criticism at Wilkinson.
Earlier on Thursday it was revealed Wilkinson had launched a civil suit in the NSW Supreme Court against Network 10 over court costs.
According to court documents, her legal team claim that in March and June this year the network accepted it was liable to indemnify the TV star even if she was ‘independently represented’.
The network initially requested to pay Wilkinson’s court costs in bulk, at the end of the trial, to allow them to add on any costs made in Mr Lehrmann’s favour.
Wilkinson’s lawyers said that was not reasonable because it would leave her to pay her own defence until she was reimbursed.
A Network 10 spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia: ‘The lawyers engaged by Lisa Wilkinson have issued invoices for a very substantial amount of money, in excess of $700,000, and in good governance these need to be justified through due process.
‘In the meantime, Network 10’s focus is on defending the defamation claim brought by Bruce Lehrmann.’
Wilkinson’s case 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 Sydney’s Federal Court.
Mr Lehrmann (pictured) has always denied having any sexual interaction with Brittany Higgins