Brittany Higgins in witness field; Ten defamation defence continues


“I simply naturally thought possibly I’d performed one thing to offer him that impression,” Higgins stated.

Higgins stated Lehrmann’s taxi or Uber pulled up “so he just about instantly left” and she or he didn’t elevate the alleged incident once more as a result of “I felt like we’d each been embarrassed sufficient”.

“I didn’t need to draw consideration to it once more,” she stated. Lehrmann has denied the alleged incident and stated he couldn’t recall a workers dinner at the moment.

He denied throughout his proof that he made “any advance to Ms Higgins ever”.

Higgins, who was known as as a witness by Ten, began giving proof in Sydney within the high-stakes defamation go well with late on Tuesday and is predicted to stay within the witness field for days.

Ten stands behind report

On Tuesday, Ten’s barrister, Dr Matt Collins, KC, opened the broadcaster’s defence in Lehrmann’s lawsuit in opposition to Ten and its high-profile journalist Wilkinson over an interview with Higgins on The Challenge, aired on February 15, 2021.

The previous Liberal staffer alleges the interview, which didn’t title him, defames him by alleging he sexually assaulted Higgins in Reynolds’ workplace within the early hours of Saturday March 23, 2019, after a Friday night time out consuming with colleagues.

Collins stated Ten’s interview was an “vital train in public curiosity journalism” and it “stands behind its report”.

Bruce Lehrmann leaves court on Tuesday.

Bruce Lehrmann leaves courtroom on Tuesday.Credit score: Kate Geraghty

‘Graphic and distressing’

Collins foreshadowed Higgins would give “graphic and distressing proof” alleging Lehrmann raped her on March 23, 2019, and that she was “extra drunk than she had ever been in her life” after consuming at the very least 12 vodka or spirit-based drinks.

Lehrmann has denied throughout cross-examination that he inspired Higgins to get drunk within the hours earlier than the alleged assault.

Requested by Collins about her top and weight on the time she alleges she was sexually assaulted by Lehrmann, Higgins instructed the courtroom on Tuesday she was about five-foot-seven (170 centimetres) and weighed within the “early 60 kilos”.

Collins foreshadowed {that a} toxicology skilled engaged by Ten had opined in a report that “a girl of Ms Higgins’ age and weight who had drunk 13 vodka-based drinks between 7.25pm and 1.30am, had drunk no non-alcoholic drinks in that point, and had eaten throughout that point solely a slice of pizza and some scorching chips, doubtless had a blood alcohol focus at 2.15am of about 0.23 per cent”.

He stated that was “about 5 instances, a bit below 5 instances, the authorized restrict” for driving.

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‘Scandalous allegation’

Collins stated Ten would name greater than 20 supporting witnesses, together with a media adviser, Lauren Acquire, who would allege Lehrmann touched and “pashed” Higgins at Canberra bar 88mph on March 22, 2019, earlier than the alleged rape within the early hours of March 23. Lehrmann has denied this account.

“In the midst of his proof, Mr Lehrmann made a scandalous allegation that Ms Acquire had colluded with Ms Higgins to make up false proof in opposition to him,” Collins stated.

“I invited him to withdraw the allegation, however he declined to take action. The allegation is with out basis.”

Collins stated Acquire texted an individual in Reynolds’ workplace on March 23: “Brittany connected with Bruce.”

“So there’s a contemporaneous report supporting Ms Acquire’s recollection,” Collins stated. “She didn’t make it up.”

Lawsuit ‘certain to fail’

If the courtroom finds Lehrmann was not directly recognized by the printed, which didn’t title him, Ten and Wilkinson admit the interview conveyed the central declare of rape and are looking for to rely partially on a reality defence.

Lisa Wilkinson outside the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday.

Lisa Wilkinson outdoors the Federal Court docket in Sydney on Wednesday.Credit score: Louise Kennerley

Throughout his opening deal with, Collins stated Lehrmann’s case was “misconceived” and “certain to fail for quite a few causes”.

Wilkinson’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, SC, stated Lehrmann’s legal professionals had been operating an “all or nothing identification case” that Lehrmann was recognized by Ten because the alleged rapist, and his case would fail if he was solely recognized as one in every of a small group of people that might presumably have been the particular person in query.

She stated that if the courtroom discovered Lehrmann was recognized as a member of a gaggle, the one defamatory that means that may have been conveyed was that there have been “affordable grounds to suspect” he dedicated the alleged sexual assault relatively than that he was responsible, however Lehrmann had not introduced a case complaining about that that means.

Seven paying for lodging

Earlier on Tuesday, Lehrmann instructed the courtroom the Seven Community was paying his lodging prices for 12 months below an unique interview deal. Beneath cross-examination by Chrysanthou, Lehrmann stated Seven had agreed to pay for his lodging for a 12 months to June 2024.

“That’s what I get,” Lehrmann stated. “For filming in these locations.”

Chrysanthou stated: “What do you imply for filming in these locations?”

Lehrmann replied that there was “a bit within the first broadcast [on Seven’s Spotlight program] I recall that was filmed within the place I used to be in on the time”.

Chrysanthou took Lehrmann to an bill and requested him if it mirrored his settlement with Seven. He replied that he didn’t know.

“You don’t understand how a lot you had been paid?” Chrysanthou requested.

“I’ve by no means seen that,” Lehrmann stated.

“So that you don’t understand how a lot was paid by Seven to your lodging for 12 months?” Chrysanthou requested.

“Community Seven deal with the lodging preparations,” Lehrmann stated.

Seven has beforehand stated in an announcement: “7News Highlight made no fee to Bruce Lehrmann for the interview, nevertheless this system assisted with lodging as a part of the filming of the story.”

‘Silly speech’

Chrysanthou additionally requested Lehrmann a couple of February 2022 speech in parliament wherein then-prime minister Scott Morrison apologised to Higgins and to “all those that got here earlier than Ms Higgins and endured the identical”.

“You heard the prime minister confer with Ms Higgins as having the braveness to face, do you keep in mind that?” Chrysanthou requested.

“In his silly parliament speech, sure,” Lehrmann stated.

Chrysanthou replied: “I’ll simply ask the subsequent query relatively than responding to what Mr Lehrmann stated. And ‘the horrible issues that passed off right here’, he apologised to her for that?”

“Sure,” Lehrmann replied.

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“And the [then] chief of the opposition [Anthony Albanese] additionally paid tribute to ‘the braveness of Brittany Higgins, who’s with us at the moment’?”

“Sure, and quite a few get together leaders and different Labor Celebration frontbenchers, sure.”

Lehrmann has alleged Wilkinson prejudiced his felony trial by delivering a Logies acceptance speech in June 2022. Chrysanthou put it to him that he had contended that Morrison’s speech and a Nationwide Press Membership deal with by Higgins in February 2022 had prejudiced his proper to a good trial.

“It was your rivalry, wasn’t it, that these two publications particularly prejudiced your proper to a good trial,” Chrysanthou stated.

“Sure,” Lehrmann replied.

His ACT felony trial was aborted in October final 12 months because of juror misconduct and the cost was later dropped altogether amid considerations about Higgins’ psychological well being.

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