The Bruce Lehrmann And Brittany Higgins Timeline Of Events: What Happened When?

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses alleged sexual assault.

Almost three years ago Australia was shocked by allegations from a young staffer in Parliament House who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a colleague in early 2019. Since then Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann have become household names.

Just this week the former Liberal political staffer begun his defamation trial against journalist Lisa Wilkinson and Network 10, over coverage of Higgins’ allegations he sexually assaulted her in 2019, which he strongly denies.

After countless months of trials, delays, potential retrials, and follow up lawsuits, it can be hard to recall the entire saga of what happened when — and according to who.

So here is the entire timeline of the Higgins and Lehrmann story, starting from the day of the alleged event, all the way to now.

23 March 2019

Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann entered Parliament House at 1:48AM after catching an Uber together, returning from having drinks with other staffers. Early that morning Higgins says she was found naked in the office of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

Higgins alleges she was sexually assaulted by Lerhmann in Parliament House that morning. Lehrmann denies the allegation to this day.

26 March 2019

Lehrmann says he is by his chief of staff Fiona Brown that it would be best if he quit his role, as he would soon be under security investigation for his early morning entrance of Reynolds’ office and for another unrelated case of mishandling security documents.

April 2019

Reynolds speaks to Higgins about the evening she and Lehrmann entered her office after hours in a “highly unusual” manner. Higgins goes to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with her accusation against Lehrmann. Lehrmann is terminated from his position as Reynolds’ staffer on April 5.

Later that month, Higgins drops her complaint and stops the AFP ‘s investigation, citing fears that making the report would be damaging for her employment. Higgins later transfers to work as a staffer in the office of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.

9 November 2020

The ABC program Four Corners release an episode called “Inside The Canberra Bubble” which explores the after hours conduct of some of Australia’s most senior politicians, and allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour occurring within Parliament House. Higgins’ allegation is not mentioned.

Parliament House
Four Corners investigated toxic workplace behaviour in Parliament House.

5 February 2021

Higgins resigns from her position in Cash’s office.

15 February 2021

News.com.au are the first to publish the shocking allegations in an exclusive interview Higgins had with Samantha Maiden: ‘Young staffer Brittany Higgins says she was raped at Parliament House‘. That evening Higgins makes the same allegations in an interview with Lisa Wilkinson on The Project.

Higgins restarts her investigation with the AFP. Lehrmann is not named in the reporting.

Brittany Higgins is at “March 4 Justice” rally. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

April 2021

Lehrmann is interviewed by the AFP.

7 August 2021

Bruce Lehrmann is publicly identified as the individual charged with allegedly sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins. His lawyer John Korn stated Lehrmann “absolutely unequivocally denies that any form of sexual activity took place at all.”

November 2021

Lerhmann pleads not guilty to Higgins’ allegations in a Canberra magistrate, appearing via phonecall. The trial is scheduled for June 2022.

22 June 2022

During her Logies acceptance speech Lisa Wilkinson thanks Higgins for the now award-winning interview she did with The Project in 2021.

Wilkinson’s thanking of Higgins is argued as a potential contempt of court by Lehrmann’s lawyers, due to how she painted Higgins’ story. They argued it could unfairly sway a jury. The case is delayed until October 2022. No contempt charges are laid.

Wilkinson thanks Higgins in her acceptance speech for Most Outstanding News Coverage or Public Affairs Report. (Source: Nine)

4 October 2022

The trial begins in Canberra’s Supreme Court. It is overseen by Chief Justice Lucy McCallum, and is expected to last six weeks.

Brittany Higgins leaves court on October 14. (Photo by Martin Ollman/Getty Images)

19 October 2022

The trial concludes early after some of Higgins’ witnesses — Maiden and Wilkinson — are struck from the witness list. The trial involved 29 witnesses including Cash and Reynolds. Lerhmann maintained his right to silence.

Justice McCallum warns the jury of 10 women and six men that they should base their judgement only on what they believe was “reasonably possible” and not to be “swayed by public opinion.” The jury begins their deliberations.

Bruce Lehrmann at ACT Supreme Court on October 06. (Photo by Martin Ollman/Getty Images)

27 October 2022

The jury of Lehrmann’s trial is discharged after one member of the jury was found to have conducted their own research. One juror had admitted to obtaining external material about the prevalence of false rape accusations, despite McCallum warning the jury “at least 17 times” not to allow themselves to make an assessment on anything but the material presented in the court.

The trial is dismissed, with a retrial set for February 2023.

Lehrmann leaving court the day before the jury is discharged. (Photo by Martin Ollman/Getty Images)

2 December 2022

The criminal case is dropped on the grounds it poses too great a risk to Higgins’ mental health for it to continue. The Februrary retrial will not go ahead. No verdict is ever made.

8 February 2023

Lehrmann launches defamation lawsuits against News Corp and Network 10 for Maiden’s news.com article and Wilkinson’s interview on The Project respectively. Lehrmann alleged he was clearly identifiable by these pieces despite not being named, and suffered damage to his reputation as a result of the allegation.

Lehrmann also launched a defamation case against the ABC for their coverage of Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame’s National Press Club address in February 2022.

Lehrmann arrives at the New South Wales Supreme Court on March 16. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

30 May 2023

Lehrmann ceases his defamation case with News Corp after they make an out-of-court settlement. No apology, retraction, or damages are given to Lehrmann, however they do agree to cover some of the legal costs for issuing the case.

The following amendment was added to Maiden’s original article: “News.com.au notes that a criminal charge of sexual assault was brought against Mr Lehrmann and later dropped. News.com.au does not suggest that he was guilty of that charge.”

22 November 2023

Lehrmann’s defamation trial against Network 10 begins. Lehrmann argues that his identity was “perfectly obvious” and that Wilkinson’s interview with Higgins “utterly destroyed” him.

Lehrmann also settled his defamation case with the ABC in confidential terms “without admission of liability.”

Lehrmann arrives in court for his defamation trial against Network 10. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

28 November 2023

While being cross examined by Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC, Lehrmann admits that in compensation for his appearances on the Seven Network’s program Spotlight in June and August of 2023, he received 12 months of paid accommodation from Seven.

“Was it part of that agreement that you were paid for 12 months accommodation by Channel Seven?” asked Chrysanthou.

“Yes, that’s what I get,” answered Lehrmann. He then confirmed that the dates of the accomodation were from June 2023 to June 2024.

He said he could not confirm the cost of the accomodation given to him, as it was managed by the network.

1 April 2024

Days before the verdict of the defamation trial, Network 10 made a bid to present last-minute evidence to the court in the hope that it would impact the verdict.

As part of the new evidence presented by Network 10 was a new witness, one of Channel Seven’s former producers, Taylor Auerbach, who worked with Lehrmann on Spotlight.

Auerbach alleged that Seven reimbursed Lehrmann for “illicit drugs and prostitutes… at the Meriton and the following evening at a brothel in Surry Hills”, as well as paying for various meals and golf trips with him. Auerbach also alleged that Lehrmann received a $10,000 Thai massage which was paid for with a Seven credit card.

Additionally, Auerbach will testify that Lehrmann provided Seven with evidence from the aborted rape trial against him, including a dump of “personal” messages between Brittany Higgins and her former boyfriend Ben Dillaway. If true, this act could be potentially found contempt of court.

3 April 2024

The Federal Court agreed to reopen the case, and the verdict is delayed by one week. Network 10 present fresh evidence in its defence case with Auerbach as its new witness.

As this story continues to unfold, be sure to check in to this page for more updates on Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann.

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