Lehrmann faces crippling legal costs after rape finding

A judge's finding Bruce Lehrmann likely raped Brittany Higgins has been labelled an "unmitigated disaster'' for the former Liberal staffer. 

Network Ten's lawyers called the result "vindication" for the company and its belief and support for Ms Higgins during Lehrmann's long-running defamation case.

"It's an unmitigated disaster for Bruce Lehrmann," Ten's lawyer Justin Quill said.

The parties have been instructed to apply for costs by Monday, with Mr Quill saying he is confident Ten will recoup at least some of its legal fees.

Channel Ten lawyer Justin Quill speaks to the media
Justin Quill said the judgment served as a warning to those looking to sue.

He said the result was a warning for other prospective plaintiffs looking to "make a quick buck".

"You can come up with a con that might get you through a TV interview, or an interview with your bosses, or down at the pub with your mates," he said. 

"But when you come to the court, and you are cross-examined, and forensically examined, you can't get away with it."

Mr Quill was asked what Lehrmann should do next and he suggested "go get another degree".

Federal Court Justice Michael Lee ruled against Lerhmann in his marathon defamation suit against the network and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for airing the allegations, finding on the balance of probabilities a sexual assault took place on a couch in Parliament House in 2019.

"It is more likely than not that Mr Lehrmann’s state of mind was such that he was so intent upon gratification to be indifferent to Ms Higgins’ consent," Justice Lee said in delivering his judgment on Monday,

"And hence (he) went ahead with sexual intercourse without caring.

"Mr Lehrmann raped Ms Higgins."

Sue Chrysanthou KC (left), and Lisa Wilkinson depart the Federal Court
Lisa Wilkinson (centre) said she hopes the judgment gives strength to women around the country.

Requiring a lower threshold for proof than a criminal trial, the civil ruling does not mean Lehrmann has been convicted of any offence.

According to Mr Quill, Lehrmann's legal team did not expect Ms Higgins to appear as a witness in the defamation case and give evidence about the the alleged assault.

"Channel Ten couldn't have defended this case without Brittany," he said.

Before the alleged assault, the two staffers were seen kissing and touching during after-work drinks in Canberra.

They later returned to parliament, where Justice Lee said they ended up on the couch in the office of their then-boss, Senator Linda Reynolds.

Lehrmann's account that he was returning to Parliament House to retrieve a set of keys, and never intended to have sex with Ms Higgins, were among numerous lies he told the court, Justice Lee determined.

"He was a 23-year-old male cheating on his girlfriend, having just 'hooked up' with a woman he found sexually attractive," Justice Lee said. 

"Human experience suggests what he then wanted to happen is not exactly shrouded in mystery."

Ms Wilkinson said she hopes the judgment gives strength to women around the country.

"All the generous members of the public who have approached me almost every single day to express, often through tears, their unwavering support," she said.

Lehrmann made no comment to media as he left the court.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store