Lisa Wilkinson’s court battle with Channel 10 over Bruce Lehrmann’s legal fees escalates

  • Lisa Wilkinson is fighting to get Network Ten to pay her legal bill
  • She hired outside counsel, which cost more than $723,000
  • Bruce Lehrmann sued Wilkinson over the interview with Brittany Higgins
  • READ MORE: Lisa Wilkinson sues Network 10 for legal fees

Lisa Wilkinson is fighting to get Network Ten to pay her six-figure legal bill in advance as she battles a libel case brought against her by former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann.

But the network’s lawyers have argued there is no evidence that the TV star is unable to afford the more than $700,000 cost of keeping a top silk for the case would.

Lehrmann’s lawsuit against Wilkinson relates to an interview the former project manager conducted with Brittany Higgins in February 2021 about allegations that she was raped as a young staffer in Parliament House.

Wilkinson opted to retain separate legal representation for the libel proceedings, including engaging high-profile barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC and Gillis Delaney Lawyers partner Anthony Jefferies.

Both parties agree that Network Ten, as their employer, is obliged to pay Ms Wilkinson’s legal costs in the case, it was told in a brief hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.

Lisa Wilkinson (left) is fighting for Network Ten to pay her $723,000 in legal fees after Bruce Lehrmann sued her for defamation over her 2021 interview with Brittany Higgins (right).

Lisa Wilkinson (left) is fighting for Network Ten to pay her $723,000 in legal fees after Bruce Lehrmann sued her for defamation over her 2021 interview with Brittany Higgins (right).

Lehrmann (above) sued Wilkinson after the project's former presenter aired an interview with Brittany Higgins about allegations she was raped while working at Parliament House

Lehrmann (above) sued Wilkinson after the project’s former presenter aired an interview with Brittany Higgins about allegations she was raped while working at Parliament House

However, Ten’s lawyer Zoe Graus told the court that her client only wanted to do this after the trial was completed, which she described as “normal procedure”.

Wilkinson initiated proceedings against Ten earlier this year to force the company to pay her legal fees immediately.

The bill comes to more than $723,000.

Ms Graus told the court there were “issues” if Wilkinson decided to engage separate representation, including potentially the “reasonableness of the costs incurred to date”.

A Ten spokesman said in a statement last month that Wilkinson’s legal team had asked for a lot of money.

“The lawyers retained by Lisa Wilkinson have issued invoices for a very significant amount of money, over $700,000, and as part of good governance these must be substantiated through due process,” they said at the time.

Ms Graus said there was no evidence that Wilkinson was unable to pay her own legal costs or that any costs had yet to be paid, only that she had been billed for the legal services.

But Wilkinson’s attorney, Daniel Klineberg, pointed out that it could take months or years for the case to be completed and that his client would essentially be left on his own dime during that time.

Wilkinson (above) chose to hire a separate attorney for the libel case, with the bill totaling more than $723,000

Wilkinson (above) chose to hire a separate attorney for the libel case, with the bill totaling more than $723,000

Mr Klineberg filed a motion in court asking Ten to specify what, if any, issue was associated with the legal costs incurred by Ms Wilkinson to date.

“(Ten) has not paid a single penny for the costs incurred by (Wilkinson) to date, but has also not established that the costs were improperly incurred,” he said.

Wilkinson says her legal fees were approximately $353,000 through May 30 of this year and that she incurred additional costs of $370,000 from that date through September 20.

The case is scheduled to be heard in court again on November 17.

Emma Colton

Janice Dean is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Janice Dean joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: janicedean@wstpost.com.

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