Emails between Angus Llewellyn and Network Ten lawyers about an email to Bruce Lehrmann, asking him to respond to Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations, have been read to the court.
One of the most bizarre exchanges in the defamation case came when Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC, asked about the legitimacy of the allegations, telling the court there were no witnesses and no cameras in the ministerial suite when Ms Higgins alleges Mr Lehrmann raped her.
‘There were just two people behind closed doors?’ he asked, using one of the more common figures of speech in the English language.
Mr Llewellyn, appearing confused, replied: ‘Closed doors? Is that plural?’
There was an audible gasp from the public gallery as it appeared Mr Llewellyn was not aware of the saying ‘behind closed doors’.
‘Is that seriously your answer?’ Mr Richardson asked.
Earlier in the cross examination, the court heard that in the week before The Project episode went to air, Mr Llewellyn wrote to his lawyers: ‘What time am I sending? 4.30pm on Friday?’
Mr Llewellyn told the court there were more in-person conversations about what time to send the email, during which the proposed time had changed.
On February 12, 2021, he wrote: ‘Hello again, are we absolutely set on midday to send these emails? Could we push to 2.30?’
Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC then asked if he was pushing to send the email even later on a Friday afternoon, three days prior to broadcast.
Mr Llewellyn said he recalled Samantha Maiden, who wrote a story using the same allegations by Ms Higgins on news.com.au on the day The Project went to air, ‘was pushing’ to send the email on Sunday, February 14, 2021.
Mr Richardson then asked if he knew how old Mr Lehrmann was, or if he considered that he ‘was a man in his mid-20s’.
‘Did you consider whether 2.45pm on a Friday, with a deadline of 10am on Monday, might be a problem for a man in his 20s?’ he asked.
Mr Llewellyn said he did not think about that.
Mr Richardson: ‘You used a Hotmail address and you knew nothing about how often he used it?’
Mr Richardson: ‘Ten had been working on this story since January 20, correct?’
Mr Llewellyn then said he had been on holidays during that time and that he didn’t classify sending Ms Wilkinson emails during that period as working because ‘I was camping’.
The court also heard Mr Llewellyn told his staff not to click on Mr Lehrmann’s LinkedIn page in case he was notified that journalists were looking at his page.
Earlier, the court heard Mr Llewellyn did not want to contact Mr Lehrmann on Facebook because the allegations were too ‘serious’ for social media.
It was suggested to him that he had no interest in seeking comment from Mr Lehrmann, and that he only did it as a matter of obligation.
Mr Llewellyn rejected that suggestion.