Network 10 wins bid to present new evidence in Bruce Lehrmann defamation case.

Judgment in Bruce Lehrmann's lawsuit against Network Ten has been delayed after an extraordinary bid to introduce new evidence at the 11th hour.

The former political staffer was due to learn on Thursday, April 4, whether his defamation case over reports of his alleged rape of Brittany Higgins had succeeded. But with his draft judgment printed and ready to be read out, Justice Michael Lee on Tuesday, April 2 agreed fresh evidence concerning leaked text messages should be admitted.

"This is clearly fresh evidence," he said in the Federal Court on Tuesday evening. A further hearing will be heard on Wednesday, April 3, with judgment delayed at least a week.

What is the fresh evidence Network 10 are going to present?

Ten said the potentially case-changing evidence came from a television producer who had worked to secure an exclusive interview with Mr Lehrmann for network rival Seven. It included an allegation that Mr Lehrmann, 28, provided the producer more than 2,300 pages of "deeply personal exchanges" between Ms Higgins and her former boyfriend, in breach of the longstanding rule in legal practice known as the Harman undertaking.

Mr Lehrmann received the material, going back years, while defending himself in a criminal trial.

Justice Lee said the evidence may change the determination of the case and agreed with Ten that it went to whether Mr Lehrman had abused the court process. 


Ten's barrister Matthew Collins accused Mr Lehrmann of giving his barristers instructions "that must have been wrong". His barristers had previously told Ten and the court the undertaking concerning Ms Higgins' messages had not been breached.

"This is not a trivial matter," Dr Collins said.

"If the [producer] evidence is accepted, our submission will be it's a very serious matter."

Mr Lehrmann, a former political staffer, is suing Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over a February 2021 report on The Project where Brittany Higgins was interviewed about her alleged raped in a Parliament House office in March 2019.

He is seeking extensive damages, saying those reports have destroyed his reputation.

Mr Lehrmann denies raping Ms Higgins. 

His barrister on April 2 urged Justice Lee to dismiss the last-minute application, saying both his client and Ms Higgins had told many lies on oath.

"It's really lipstick on a pig," barrister Matthew Richardson said.

"This stuff is trivial, it's just not relevant, and to give leave to reopen on that sort of material would be inappropriate."

—With AAP

Feature image: Getty.