Bruce Lehrmann denies false sex abuse claims are 'rare'

Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

Bruce Lehrmann's legal team will oppose the use of expert evidence that false sexual abuse complaints are rare in a defamation trial over reporting of rape allegations against him.

Network Ten and the ABC are being sued over broadcasts that reported rape claims by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins.

She says Mr Lehrmann sexually assaulted her in the Parliament House office of their then-boss, defence industry minister Linda Reynolds, in 2019, an allegation he denies.

Ten wants to use evidence by psychologist Chris Lennings at the upcoming four-week Federal Court defamation trial, which is due to start on November 22.

Barrister Tim Senior, representing Ten and the ABC, on Monday said the doctor's report delved into how victims of sexual assault typically responded to those incidents and how things such as memory could be affected.

But Mr Lehrmann's barrister Matthew Richardson SC opposed Dr Lennings' evidence being used, saying it claimed that false sex abuse complaints were "rare".

"There certainly will be objection to that evidence," he told Justice Michael Lee.

A report on Ms Higgins' level of intoxication on the night she alleges she was raped will also be provided to the court.

The defamation case centres around a report on The Project in June 2021 and a joint speech by Ms Higgins and former Australian of the Year Grace Tame at the National Press Club, which was broadcast live on the ABC in February 2022.

Mr Lehrmann claims the reports defamed him, destroying his reputation.

On Monday, the Federal Court heard the main witnesses to be cross-examined at the trial include Ms Higgins, and Ten journalists Angus Llewellyn and Lisa Wilkinson.

Justice Lee said his preference was that the three witnesses and Mr Lehrmann gave evidence in the witness box rather than by written affidavit.

It would be the first time Mr Lehrmann has given evidence in a court about the allegations.

Short delays have occurred in the case due to the unavailability of Ms Higgins and her legal team, the judge was told.

Mr Lehrmann's trial in the ACT Supreme Court was derailed by juror misconduct and prosecutors did not seek a second trial due to concerns over Ms Higgins' mental health.

A landmark report into the ACT legal system and the Higgins case was released earlier this month, making damning findings against now ex-director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold over his conduct during the case.