Minister in Vic court for Mirabella trial

Aged care minister Ken Wyatt will be in the hot seat as lawyers question him about an encounter between ex-Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella and a political opponent that is now at the centre of a defamation trial.

Ms Mirabella is suing weekly newspaper The Benalla Ensign and its editor Libby Price in the Victoria County Court over an April 2016 article about an encounter with Indi member Cathy McGowan.

Mr Wyatt is scheduled to give evidence at the trial in Wangaratta as it enters its third day on Monday.

Ms Mirabella, who lost the seat to Ms McGowan in 2013, says the article defamed her by falsely claiming she pushed the incumbent MP out of the way of a photograph with Mr Wyatt for her own political benefit.

The article was published five days after Ms McGowan had requested a photo with Mr Wyatt during the opening of a new wing at a Benalla aged care facility on April 15, 2016.

Ms Mirabella admits she stopped the photo from being taken.

"I was of the same mind as her (a Liberal Party staffer) that we couldn't have the perpetuation of this myth that Ms McGowan was Liberal-lite," Ms Mirabella told the court on Friday.

But Mr Wyatt had already agreed to the photo with Ms McGowan.

Ms Mirabella and Mr Wyatt then walked up to Ms McGowan and the minister apologised for not having time for a photo.

Ms McGowan said it would only take a minute, then turned to Ms Mirabella and said: "you don't mind, do you?"

Ms Mirabella replied: "Since you asked, yes I do mind, Cathy.

"If you wanted to have promotional material with a Liberal minister, you should have run for preselection."

Ms Price and the newspaper argue the article was substantially true and say "pushed" was used as a figure of speech.

The trial before a jury of six people is expected to go for up to six days.