Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann has settled in the defamation case he launched against the ABC after the broadcast of a speech by Brittany Higgins.
The National Press Club speech, made by Higgins alongside former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, was aired in February 2022.
Dr Matthew Collins KC, the barrister representing the ABC, confirmed the settlement on Wednesday morning. Justice Michael Lee, who is presiding over the case, is yet to order costs.
Whilst Lehrmann has settled his case against the ABC, he will still be going ahead with defamation action against Network 10 and journalist Lisa Wilkinson in relation to a February 2021 interview with Higgins that aired on The Project. In the interview, Higgins made the allegation that she had been raped in an office of Parliament House.
Whilst he was not named, Lerhmann claimed that “his name was widely trafficked as the culprit on social media and the internet generally”. His lawyers echoed that message, saying that “it was “notorious in Parliament House and elsewhere that Mr Lehrmann was the person alleged to have assaulted Ms Higgins”.
Earlier this year, Lehrmann dropped his legal proceedings against News Corp after reaching an out-of-court settlement. He was taking defamation action against both News Life Media – publisher of news.com.au – and Samantha Maiden, news.com.au’s national political editor.
In the News Corp case, Lehrmann claimed that he was identifiable in two news.com.au articles which have now been updated with an editor’s note that reads “News.com.au notes that a criminal charge of sexual assault was brought against Mr Lehrmann and later dropped. News.com.au does not suggest that he was guilty of that charge.”
Last month, changes to Queensland law resulted in Lehrmann being revealed as the previously anonymous “high-profile” man charged with two counts of raping a woman in Toowoomba. The charges came from October 2021, and Lehrmann has not yet been committed to stand trial.