Bruce Lehrmann seeks refuge at police station after judgment in defamation case

Bruce Lehrmann reportedly fled to a police station after the adverse judgment in his defamation action against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson, and was taken to another location to protect his safety.

The Australian reports Mr Lehrmann “sought refuge in a regional police station” and was subsequently transported by officers to an undisclosed location.

He’d earlier been spotted leaving a carpark in his Mazda CX-9 following the judgment by Justice Michael Lee in the Federal Court. He did not speak to the media on his way out.

In that judgment, Justice Lee determined that “Mr Lehrmann raped” Brittany Higgins in Parliament House.

“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.”

According to The Australian, Mr Lehrmann abandoned the Mazda in a No Stopping zone outside Gosford police station.

“I thought he was handing himself in after being declared a rapist,” a witness joked to the newspaper.

“I thought that he had a change of heart.”

The criminal rape trial against Mr Lehrmann collapsed in 2022 due to juror misconduct. The DPP elected not to pursue another trial, citing Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Mr Lehrmann has always maintained his innocence.

Justice Lee’s judgment was delivered under the civil standard of proof, which hinges on facts being proven according to “the balance of probabilities”.

Lehrmann withdraws from conference

After the judgment, Mr Lehrmann also withdrew from his planned role as a speaker at the upcoming Restoring the Presumption of Innocence Conference, run by men’s rights activists Bettina Arndt.

Ms Arndt told The Australian the event had “accepted” Mr Lehrmann’s decision to withdraw and would find someone else to fill the spot.

She described the Lehrmann case as “a powerful example of trial by media undermining the vital legal principle of the presumption of innocence”.

Lehrmann faces massive legal costs

Meanwhile, Mr Lehrmann could be declared bankrupt if Channel Ten and Lisa Wilkinson pursue him for legal costs and he can’t pay up.

A fresh round of legal action could also unearth whether any secret backers have ever paid his legal bills.

Legal sources have told that the combined costs of Lisa Wilkinson and her employer are likely to amount to between $5 million and $6 million.

Mr Lehrmann is an unemployed law student who has not worked full-time since late 2021. During that period he also had his rent paid for by Channel 7 over the last year, along with dinners and drinks at expensive restaurants.

What isn’t clear is how he’s been paying his legal bills.

He was privately represented in the criminal trial by Steve Whybrow SC, who has previously said he worked pro bono. Mr Lehrmann was also represented by Kamy Saeedi Law, which prepared hundreds of subpoenas and documents for the case.

It’s yet to be determined how much of Ten’s costs Mr Lehrmann is liable to pay.

The $5-6 million estimate of the respondents’ legal costs do not include his own legal costs for barristers Matthew Richardson SC, Steve Whybrow SC, and his solicitors from Mark O’Brien Legal.

However, Mark O’Brien Legal is believed to have worked on a no win, no fee basis.

Channel Ten is also considering applications to uncover third party backers, including who might have been paying for Mr Lehrmann’s large legal bills over the last three years.

If those costs were billed they would likely range from somewhere between $500,000- $1 million. Then there are his costs for the defamation case, which are expected to be over $1 million on top of that.

Mr Lehrmann also has legal bills in Queensland, where he is charged with rape in Toowoomba. He is privately represented there too and faces a committal hearing to determine whether the matter will go to trial in June.

He denies the charges.

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