Network Seven is paying for a year of Bruce Lehrmann's accommodation following his multiple television interviews, a court has heard.
Mr Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over a 2021 The Project story airing Brittany Higgins' allegation she was sexually assaulted at Parliament House two years earlier.
Television interview payment
Mr Lehrmann was asked about the two interviews he gave Channel Seven's Spotlight earlier this year when he told what he claimed was his side of the story.
"It was part of that agreement, isn't it, that you were paid for 12 months of accommodation by Channel Seven?" Sue Chrysanthou SC, representing Ms Wilkinson, asked.
Mr Lehrmann responded: "That's the only part of the ... that's what I got."
That accommodation, the court heard, was being paid for between June 2023 and June 2024.
Mr Lehrmann said the accommodation was for places in which the program had been filmed.
However, the man said he did not know how much had been spent because "Network Seven handle the accommodation arrangements".
"The document was produced on subpoena by Network Seven, so we'll deal with that later," Ms Chrysanthou said.
It was previously stated the television network had not paid Mr Lehrmann for the interview, but had "assisted with accommodation as part of the filming of the report".
Prime minister's 'stupid speech'
Ms Chrysanthou asked Mr Lehrmann about public support of Ms Higgins and her allegations which could have been considered prejudicial to his criminal trial.
The man said he saw the speech made by then-prime minister Scott Morrison on February 8, 2022, apologising to Ms Higgins.
"You heard the prime minister refer to Ms Higgins as having the courage to stand?" Ms Chrysanthou asked.
Mr Lehrmann responded: "In his stupid Parliament speech? Yes."
"I'll just ask the next question rather than responding to what Mr Lehrmann said," the barrister said.
Mr Lehrmann agreed the leader of the opposition and a number of political leaders "paid tribute to the courage of Brittany Higgins" the day before the woman's Press Club speech, which the ABC was sued over.
Public interest journalism
On Tuesday afternoon, Ten's barrister Matthew Collins KC officially opened the broadcaster's case.
"That there was a legitimate public interest in the exposure of Ms Higgins' allegation, in our submission, cannot be doubted," Dr Collins said.
The television interview did not name Mr Lehrmann but he claims being defamed because several details identified him and, in turn, "publicly maligned" him as "certainly the most prominent rapist".
The barrister said that "Network Ten stands behind its report".
"But we understand why Mr Lehrmann feels aggrieved but his defamation case is misconceived and, we will ultimately submit, bound to fail," Dr Collins said.
"This is not a borderline case. Far from it."
Dr Collins addressed "what appears to be Mr Lehrmann's case theory".
That theory, the barrister said, was that Ms Higgins saw Mr Lehrmann had been fired over the pair's late-night visit to Parliament House after a night out with colleagues.
"[She] thought it was inevitable she was about to suffer the same fate and so fabricated an allegation of rape in order to save her job," the barrister said.
"It is, with respect to our friends, incoherent.
"It would be a monstrous thing, as Ms Higgins would tell you, to fabricate an allegation of rape."
The court heard it would also not have made sense, under that theory, for Ms Higgins to remain in the job and then expose herself to the "extraordinary scrutiny" of going to media two years after the alleged incident.
Higgins in witness box
Five minutes before the court day's end, Ms Higgins, who had appeared in the court public gallery on Tuesday afternoon for the first time this trial, sat in the witness box.
The time did not permit the woman to give any substantial evidence, but simply to provide a few details about herself.
"Can you tell us how tall you are?" Dr Collins asked.
Ms Higgins responded "not accurately" before roughly guessing she was 5'7".
The former political staffer described herself as "very much a Liberal" due to her having grown up in Queensland.
She told the court she initially came to Canberra to work with aspirations of being a media advisor.
"I wanted to work my way up the ranks," she said.
Ms Higgins is set to give further evidence and eventually be cross-examined from Wednesday morning.
Settling other defamation action
He was previously suing the media companies for defamation over the reporting and broadcast of Ms Higgins' allegations.
The barrister said she intended to tender the deeds, possibly making them public after they have so far remained confidential.
Mr Lehrmann had previously said he was very happy with the settlement he made with the owner of news.com.au, and journalist Samantha Maiden.
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On Tuesday, he was asked if he was also "very happy" with his ABC settlement, which was announced on the defamation trial's first day.
"Sure, I haven't said anything publicly ... I'm satisfied with that settlement," Mr Lehrmann said, despite Justice Lee's attempt to intervene.
Mr Lehrmann has always denied raping Ms Higgins in 2019 in the office of Senator Linda Reynolds and no findings have been made against him.
The trial continues.
- Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 6247 2525.