Brittany Higgins will give more evidence in support of Network Ten’s defence against defamation proceedings launched by Bruce Lehrmann after the broadcaster aired her allegation she was raped by a colleague in Parliament House.
Lehrmann was criminally charged in August 2021 over the alleged rape in senator Linda Reynolds office in March 2019, which he denies.
His criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court was derailed by juror misconduct and prosecutors did not seek a second trial, citing concerns for Ms Higgins’ mental health.
Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson in the Federal Court, claiming their interview with Ms Higgins on The Project in February 2021 defamed him.
He finished his evidence on Tuesday afternoon after a four-day stint in the witness box which contained details of him having “spiralled quickly”, seeking cocaine after learning of the media reports and staying out past 6.30am before checking himself into hospital.
After Lehrmann left the witness box, Ms Higgins watched as Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC and Ms Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC presented an outline of their defence cases.
Ms Chrysanthou said Lehrmann had given “various versions” of events which didn’t make a lot of sense and left gaping holes in the evidence, but when the broadcast went to air the subject matter was of significant public interest.
Dr Collins said he expected Ms Higgins to give “graphic and distressing” evidence of being assaulted by Lehrmann after a night out drinking when she was “more drunk that she had ever been in her life”, as well as about her interactions with Lehrmann in the weeks leading up to the alleged rape.
He said Lehrmann was not named in the broadcast, which focused on exposing alleged inadequacies in the government’s response to the allegations and Ms Higgins’ perception they posed a political problem putting her “dream job” at risk.
Ten plans to call more than 20 witnesses in addition to Ms Higgins.
She told the court on Tuesday she had aspired to continue working in politics.
“I wanted to work my way up the ranks,” Ms Higgins said.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028