‘All These People Did Nothing’: Brittany Higgins Speaks Out In Lehrmann Defamation Case

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses graphic details of alleged sexual assault.

In Channel Ten’s defence against the defamation case Bruce Lehrmann launched against it, the network has called a star witness to the stand: Brittany Higgins. While on stand Higgins gave a detailed description of her alleged sexual assault.

Network 10 are arguing the truth as its defence, and are attempting to establish that The Project’s reporting of Higgins’ allegation she was sexually assaulted by Lerhmann was fair.

Lehrmann, who vehemently denies the allegations from Higgins, actioned the defamation case due to believing he was “easily identifiable” in The Project’s reporting and suffered reputation damage as a result.

In order to make the case for a truth defence, Higgins gave a recount of the night she alleges Lehrmann raped her in Parliament House in 2019.

Brittany Higgins provides her recollection of the alleged assault

In Federal Court on November 29, Higgins detailed what she says happened whilst she was at The Dock in Canberra having drinks with her fellow staffers, including Lerhmann.

Higgins told the court that over the course of the night Lehrmann purchased her drinks, and while she was drunk she continued to stay out at the request of others.

When asked to recount her recollection of interactions with Lerhmann while at the the club she alleged he was “being handsy” with her.

“I remember him sitting really close to me. I remember him having his arm around my shoulder. I remember him touching me. And I remember having … a thought process of discomfort but not wanting to vocalise the discomfort,” stated Higgins.

Higgins said she had no memory of talking to security to enter Parliament House at 1:40am on the March 23, 2019 due to being intoxicated, and that she could “kind of just remember standing there and letting him [Lehrmann] handle it.”

She then shared that she recalled viewing the prime minister’s courtyard, and that her next memory was waking up on a couch in Linda Reynolds‘ office with Lehrmann assaulting her.

“He was having sex with me at that point in time, and that was what I first woke up to,” alleged Higgins.

Higgins began to break down into tears in the witness box while recounting how she woke up: “My head was in the back corner of the couch, he was on top of me, his arms were over the top of the couch.”

She said that she made her refusal of consent vocal.

“I don’t know how many times I said it… He didn’t even acknowledge it,” she said.

Higgins shares how she responded in the aftermath

Brittany Higgins told the Federal Court that she did not tell any friends or housemates of what she says happened in the immediate aftermath, and that she didn’t leave her house until she had to return to work on Monday.

According to Higgins, when she returned to work Lehrmann purchased her a takeaway coffee, and left her an email that included a smiley face, which “really freaked” her out.

“We’d never had a friendly social relationship, and then suddenly after he raped me there was this familiarity,” said Higgins.

One of the first people Higgins said she informed of the alleged assault was her chief of staff Fiona Brown on the Tuesday. Higgins says she “didn’t use the word rape in that first meeting.”

Higgins then said that she later had a meeting with Brown and Reynolds in the office next to the couch she says the incident took place.

She recalled that Reynolds said she was “so sorry” initially. “She said ‘these are things that women go through,’” said Higgins, including that Reynolds asked to remain informed if she spoke to police.

However in fear of her job security, particularly with the upcoming 2019 Federal Election, Higgins says she ultimately ceased her investigation with the AFP.

Later Higgins recounted how let down she felt by other members of her office in the wake of her allegations, including that she felt Reynolds kept distance from her.

“She actively avoided me, and didn’t even like being in a room with me,” Higgins said.

Lehrmann was terminated from his position in April of 2019, and Higgins claimed in the witness box that her workers knew that the reason for this was in relation to her allegations.

“In my time of need when something horrendous happened, all these people did nothing,” said Higgins, again tearing up in the stand.

“I can’t explain how hurt I was that I was just abandoned like that.”

Higgins also stated that she hid the dress she wore on the night of the alleged assault under her bed for six weeks, wore it one more night at a birthday party in WA for Reynolds, and then says she never wore it again.

Learn more about the timeline of the Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann saga here.

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[Image Credit: Nine, Louise Kennerley]