Lisa Wilkinson has filed her defence in the defamation case brought against her by Bruce Lehrmann and is arguing his conduct ‘amounted to rape’.
The former Project host will seek to ‘prove’ the former Liberal Party staffer sexually assaulted ‘an intoxicated Brittany Higgins’ at Parliament House in 2019 when they were colleagues.
Documents made public by the Federal Court on Wednesday, also outlined that Wilkinson denies seeking to use the allegations of sexual assault against Mr Lehrmann for personal and professional gain.
Mr Lehrmann has consistently denied raping Ms Higgins and launched a defamation suit against Network Ten and News Life Media Pty Ltd in the Federal Court last month.
In a 22-page legal document filed by Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC, Wilkinson states she acted as a responsible journalist during her coverage of the accusations.
Lisa Wilkinson has filed her defence in the defamation case of former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann, accusing him of lying about his sexual encounter with Brittany Higgins
The TV star who won the 2022 Gold Logie for her sit-down interview with Ms Higgins the previous year, flatly denied Mr Lehrmann’s claim that she was ‘recklessly indifferent to the truth’ and was ‘fighting’ over the story’s exclusivity with news.com.au’s Samantha Maiden.
Wilkinson unequivocally refuted this claim, stating she never spoke to Maiden in the lead up to the story going to air.
The truth defence lodged by Wilkinson states the allegations against her of recklessness are ‘baseless, unjustified, unsupported by any fact and should be withdrawn.’
Daily Mail Australia understands Mr Lehrmann gave Network 10 and news.com.au a settlement offer, but the outlets rejected the offer, pledging to fight the matters in the courtroom.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) has consistently denied raping Ms Higgins and launched a defamation suit against Network Ten and News Life Media Pty Ltd in the Federal Court last month
Daily Mail Australia understands Mr Lehrmann gave Network 10 and news.com.au a settlement offer, but the outlets rejected the offer and pledged to fight the matters
The legal document states Wilkinson believes Mr Lehrmann ‘took an intoxicated Higgins to Parliament House on 23 March 2019, with the intention of having sexual intercourse with her’.
It references Ms Higgins consuming 11 standard alcoholic drinks in four and a half hours with Mr Lehrmann.
‘Lehrmann offered to share a taxi with Higgins, having told her that they were headed in the same direction, but once both were in the taxi, Lehrmann told Higgins that he had to stop somewhere first,’ the document states.
‘Lehrmann directed the taxi to Parliament House, where he exited the taxi with Higgins at the Ministerial entrance at about 1:40am… Lehrmann and Higgins went through security and Higgins was observed by security personnel to be visibly intoxicated’.
The defence alleges Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins went up the lift and into Minister for Defense Linda Reynolds’ office where Ms Higgins fell asleep on the couch.
‘Higgins woke some time later at about 2:30am and Lehrmann was on top of her having sexual intercourse with her,’ the legal filing states.
‘Higgins did not consent to the sexual intercourse with Lehrmann.
‘He engaged in intercourse with Higgins and left her there on her own at about 3am, effectively naked and in an intoxicated state.’
Part of the defamation claim is that The Project interview on February 15, 2021 identified Mr Lehrmann.
In a 22-page legal document filed by Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC, Wilkinson states she acted as a responsible journalist. The defence lodged by Wilkinson stated the allegations against her of recklessness are ‘baseless, unjustified, unsupported by any fact and should be withdrawn’
Wilkinson states in her legal filing that she ‘does not know’ that Mr Lehrmann was identifiable by any viewer on that episode.
The TV star also denies being ‘recklessly indifferent to the truth’ on the broadcast and pointed to Mr Lehrmann being reached out to multiple times for a response but he chose not to give one.
Another part of Mr Lehrmann’s defamation claim is that Wilkinson could have sought to use the allegations for her professional and personal gain, something Wilkinson vehemently rejects.
Wilkinson went on to say at no time did she sense Ms Higgins’ allegations were false.
Mr Lehrmann was charged with raping Ms Higgins six months after the interview was aired.
In June, Wilkinson won a Logie for her powerful television interview with former Higgins, when she alleged she was raped by a colleague in Parliament House in 2019
He pleaded not guilty during his rape trial in the ACT Supreme Court in October last year.
A few months prior in June, Wilkinson had the criminal case postponed after comments during her Logies acceptance speech were ruled prejudicial by the judge.
The trial was eventually aborted in November due to misconduct by a member of the jury.
The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC then dropped the trial entirely due to concerns over Ms Higgins’ mental health.