Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial live: Brittany Higgins cross-examined over why she wore white dress again after alleged rape | Australia news – Freedom Voice


Key events

As the court takes a longer than usual break (due back at 12:30) here is what we’ve heard so far today.

Brittany Higgins is again back in the witness box – she began giving evidence on Tuesday afternoon, and her cross-examination began yesterday morning.

A reminder: Bruce Lehrmann has brought a defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

The case is over an interview aired on Ten’s The Project, in which Higgins alleged she was raped by a Liberal staffer in Parliament House. Network Ten and Wilkinson are defending the case, and Higgins is the first defence witness.

At the beginning of the day, Justice Michael Lee foreshadowed that the trial may be extended past its original 14 December end date, possibly up to 18 December

Higgins was cross-examined over a white pencil dress she wore on the night of the alleged rape. She told Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow SC that she wore it at a later Liberal party event in Perth because she was “trying to reclaim it”, but she couldn’t and never wore it again.

She was asked why she sent selfies in the dress to a friend and it was suggested this was because she hadn’t been sexually assaulted in the dress. She replied “you’re incorrect”.

She conceded that a timeline of events that she prepared, which she said she wrote for herself, the police and Ten’s The Project, contained facts that were incorrect.

Higgins said senator Linda Reynolds “did not meet her duty of care” towards her and she felt “unsupported” by Reynolds and her chief of staff Fiona Brown – but she did not count them as “villains” and was “still a Liberal” at the time she went public, though she no longer is.

Higgins said it was an accidental oversight that a document naming Lehrmann as the alleged perpetrator of her sexual assault was distributed widely to journalists.

Lehrmann’s name included in media briefing notes by accident, Higgins tells court

Brittany Higgins has told the court she and her partner, David Sharaz, gave copies of the timeline of events of her alleged rape to journalists in the Canberra press gallery after news.com.au broke the story on 15 February 2021.

“David sent it to like half the press gallery,” Higgins said.

The witness said the couple had to distribute the timeline widely as a background document because there was so much press interest and they were “overwhelmed” by inquiries.

However, Higgins said she had kept the story under wraps until it was published by Samantha Maiden, apart from The Project which was scheduled to broadcast it on the same day.

She denied she had briefed journalists before 15 February.

“No never,” Higgins said. “I never gazumped Sam’s exclusive.”

Higgins agreed she had inadvertently included Bruce Lehrmann’s name in the briefing document distributed to journalists.

Bruce Lehrmann’s barrister, Steve Whybrow SC: “Oh, it was just an accidental oversight that this document naming Mr Lehrmann as the perpetrator of your sexual assault was distributed to a lot of the Canberra press gallery and wider?”

Higgins replied: “Yes.”

Higgins told the court the document was originally prepared for herself and for the police.

Higgins denies leaking story to media to damage Liberal party before 2019 election

Brittany Higgins says she does not count Linda Reynolds and her chief of staff Fiona Brown as villains in her story.

“Fiona Brown was just following instructions and I’ve never blamed her and I don’t blame her,” Higgins said.

“Linda Reynolds avoided me in my view, and did not meet her duty of care. I felt unsupported. I felt unsupported by both of them, but I don’t count them as villains in this story. I just don’t think they did the right thing by me.”

Higgins said her experience damaged her relationship with the Liberal party and she revealed she is no longer a Liberal.

She denied a suggestion from Whybrow that she leaked her story to the media in order to damage the Liberal party ahead of the 2019 election.

“I had no intention of impacting the election, but I did want to change the culture in Parliament House,” Higgins said.

“I was angry at the culture of Parliament House and I was hurt by the Liberal party, but I was still a Liberal.

“No longer, but I was still for a really long time.”

Higgins acknowledges she made mistakes in timeline of events

Brittany Higgins is being questioned about her attitude to the conduct of the Australian federal police when she alleged her rape and her reasons for changing her mind about whether to report.

Her initial report to officers in Parliament House in 2019 days after the alleged rape was withdrawn and then a second report was made to officers in Belconnen in 2021, the federal court heard.

Whybrow has put it to Higgins that she prepared a timeline of events for the media rather than for the police.

Higgins: “That’s incorrect. It was prepared … for me initially. And then I had the intention to give it to both the police and The Project.”

The court has heard her partner, David Sharaz, provided the timeline to The Project and Lisa Wilkinson on 23 January 2021.

Whybrow is putting to Higgins that some facts in the timeline are incorrect.

Higgins agrees that the date she went to the police – 26 March 2019 – is wrong on the timeline and it should have been 1 April.

Higgins acknowledged she made mistakes in the timeline.

Brittany Higgins (right) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney on Friday.
Brittany Higgins (right) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney on Friday. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Higgins defends wearing white dress to a Liberal party function and taking photos in it

Brittany Higgins has denied a suggestion she wore the white pencil dress again and took selfies in it because she had not been sexually assaulted while wearing it.

Bruce Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow SC showed Higgins photos and texts she sent to a male friend of hers while wearing the dress at a Liberal party function during the 2019 election campaign.

Higgins said the message was “flirty” but she was also feeling anxious about being at a Liberal party function in Perth with Senator Reynolds because their relationship had deteriorated.

Whybrow: “I want to suggest that you took those photos and sent them because you hadn’t been sexually assaulted in that dress.

Higgins: “I understand that that’s what you’re putting to me. You’re incorrect.”

Higgins grilled over why she wore white dress again after alleged rape

Higgins is being cross-examined about a meeting she and her partner David Sharaz had with police at Belconnen police station in Canberra on 6 February 2021.

She agreed the couple told police Higgins had tried to resign from her job in Parliament House where she was being subjected to “workplace emotional abuse and gaslighting”.

“Yes, I’ve definitely said words to that effect before, but I don’t recall specifically if that’s what David said,” Higgins said.

Higgins agreed she told police she still had the white pencil dress she wore on the night of the alleged rape.

Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow SC has asked Higgins when and where she washed the dress – which was stained from falling over – after the alleged rape and whether she packed it to take to Perth for the election campaign.

Higgins agreed she sat next to Senator Linda Reynolds at a Liberal party event in Perth where she was wearing the white dress.

Whybrow: “Do you have any recollection of your thought processes in wearing the dress that you say you were sexually assaulted in to the birthday party of the person you say for the last several weeks had been isolating you and treating you poorly?”

Higgins: “Yeah, of course. It was my favourite dress. I used to wear it all the time. And I guess I was trying to reclaim it.

“I’ve done that with like a lot of – even my court clothes for example – sometimes you can kind of shake off the association from an article (of clothing) and try and make it yours again. And in this instance, I thought I could.

“I couldn’t. And so I never wore it after this event.”

Lisa Wilkinson and Bruce Lehrmann are both in the courtroom today, sitting at opposite ends of the room as Brittany Higgins gives her evidence.

Here is Lehrmann arriving at court today:

Bruce Lehrmann (left) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney.
Bruce Lehrmann (left) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Brittany Higgins is now back in the witness stand. Here she is arriving at court this morning:

Brittany Higgins (right) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney.
Brittany Higgins (right) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Here is Lisa Wilkinson photographed as she arrived at court this morning with her legal team.

Lisa Wilkinson (left) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney.
Lisa Wilkinson (left) arrives at the federal court of Australia in Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Trial may be extended to 18 December, court hears

A separate matter about legal costs between Lisa Wilkinson and her employer the Ten Network, has been the subject of complex legal argument.

Justice Michael Lee has set down the matter for a final hearing on 14 December or at the end of the defamation trial.

The court has heard the trial may be extended from an estimated 14 December to 18 December.

Wilkinson, who has retained her own legal counsel, is suing her employer over a dispute about payment of more than $700,000 in legal costs.

This blog will cover major developments during the day.

In the interests of open justice and due to significant public interest, the federal court is livestreaming this case.

You can follow the Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial live stream on YouTube here.

Yesterday Justice Michael Lee warned if members of the public denigrate the barristers on social media he will reconsider allowing the case to be livestreamed on YouTube.

Lee heard that court staff were monitoring activity on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“I just make it perfectly clear to those observing that abuse of any legal practitioners involved in the case, it won’t be tolerated,” Lee said.

“And if the situation becomes one which I consider the benefits of livestreaming are outweighed by the fact that it’s encouraging activity which I regard undermines the integrity of the process then I’ll cease the live stream.”

Brittany Higgins will return to the witness box in the federal court today to continue her lengthy cross-examination by Bruce Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow SC.

(Though first up at 9am Justice Michael Lee will first hear a side issue in the matter involving a financial dispute between the two respondents: Ten and Wilkinson.)

It is day eight of the high-profile defamation trial which is expected to run until 14 December and to hear from more than 20 witnesses for the defence.

Yesterday Whybrow’s allegation that she had a financial motive for making an allegation of rape against his client led Higgins to declare if she ever wrote a book she would donate the proceeds to charity.

“Take it as an oath right now,” she said. “I don’t care about it.”

Lehrmann brought the defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over an interview with Higgins on Ten’s The Project in which she alleged she was raped by a Liberal staffer in Parliament House. Network Ten and Wilkinson are defending the case.

It was a highly emotional day yesterday as Higgins pushed back on suggestions she lied about her alleged rape and had been inconsistent about the details, including whether she was naked or partially naked.

Wilkinson, who has retained her own legal counsel, is suing her employer over a dispute about payment of more than $700,000 in legal costs.

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