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Former political staffer Bruce Lehrmann engaged in an abuse of process aimed at concealing the truth that he raped his colleague Brittany Higgins, according to Network Ten’s submission on costs, following his failed defamation case in the Federal Court.

Last week, Justice Michael Lee dismissed Lehrmann’s action against the network and journalist Lisa Wilkinson, declaring the substantial truth defence had been made out, because on the balance of probabilities, “Mr Lehrmann raped Ms Higgins.”

The action was centred on an episode of The Project, in which Ms Higgins alleged that she had been raped by an unnamed staffer at Parliament House in Canberra.

In its submission, Ten says “Mr Lehrmann brought this proceeding on a deliberately wicked and calculated basis.” The network argues that Lehrmann should be ordered to pay its costs of successfully defending the proceedings from the start, on an indemnity basis.

In the alternative, Ten says costs should apply from 31 August 2023, when Lehrmann rejected a settlement offer.

Ten submits that after criminal proceedings against him were terminated, “Mr Lehrmann brought this proceeding, gambling on the respondents not being able to discharge their burden of proof in respect of a matter that, in view of the outcome, he must be taken at all times to have known to be true.”

“[T]he seriousness of such conduct cannot be overstated,” says Ten’s submission.

In his submission, Lehrmann’s barrister David Helvadjian says the Court may wish to exercise its discretion, “to recognise the ‘success’ the respondents have enjoyed but, due to their failure with respect to the qualified privilege defences, temper that success by ordering that the applicant pay only a proportion of the respondents’ costs on the ordinary basis.”

Wilkinson, who was sued personally by Lehrmann and had separate legal representation, is also seeking to have costs awarded.

In their submission, Wilkinson’s barristers concede Lehrmann may have thought when he commenced the proceedings, that Wilkinson would not be separately represented. But they say a notice of appearance was filed less than a week after the statement of claim was served. “In the circumstances, it was open to the applicant to discontinue his claim against Ms Wilkinson at that time, with little or no costs penalty,” the submission states.

The costs hearing is scheduled for 1 May.