Brittany Higgins in witness field; Ten defamation defence continues


Higgins stated Lehrmann left after the alleged assault however she “couldn’t rise up off the sofa” and handed out.

She woke early within the morning in Reynolds’ workplace with mild coming via the blinds, she advised the courtroom, and was sick in her bathroom. “I knew what had occurred, however I couldn’t digest it but,” she stated.

Higgins returned to the Federal Court docket witness field on Wednesday as Community Ten and Lisa Wilkinson defend a defamation go well with introduced in opposition to them by Lehrmann over an interview with Higgins in February 2021 that he alleges advised he raped Higgins on March 23, 2019. He denies the allegation and maintains that they had no sexual contact.

Requested at one stage if she wanted to take a break after she began crying within the witness field and wiped her nostril with a tissue, Higgins stated: “Simply give me a second. I’ll be high-quality.”

Higgins alleged throughout her proof that Lehrmann tried to kiss her days earlier than she alleges he raped her in Parliament Home and took her cellphone “in jest” once they first met to cease her leaving a Canberra pub.

‘Not right here to destroy your life’

Higgins was taken by Ten’s barrister, Dr Matt Collins, KC, to an e-mail she despatched Lehrmann on Monday, March 26, 2019, asking him for assist with a piece activity and writing that she was “phoning a pal”.

“I didn’t think about him a pal,” Higgins stated.

She stated she was trying to “soften the scenario” and present she was “not a risk” and “not right here to destroy your life” as a result of they nonetheless needed to work collectively and he was extra senior within the workplace.

Drinks at The Dock

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Higgins gave proof on Wednesday that from her remark of CCTV footage from The Dock resort in Canberra on March 22, 2019, which captured her consuming with Lehrmann and different staffers hours earlier than the alleged rape, she had 11 vodka-based drinks at that venue. Higgins stated this was an “abnormality” and an “extreme” quantity.

“I knew I used to be getting drunker,” Higgins stated, and advised the courtroom she had “drunk known as” a former boyfriend at 11pm. “I used to be very drunk.”

Requested why she saved consuming, Higgins stated: “I believe it was on the insistence of others, however I’m not 100 per cent certain.”

She stated Lehrmann was “the nicest he’d ever been to me” and “I felt like … an equal. I appreciated that. It felt like we have been friends nearly”.

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

A second bar

She stated she had some recollection that she went to a second bar in Canberra, 88mph, with Lehrmann and two different staffers, and that she was very inebriated by this stage. She recalled “the boys”, Lehrmann and one other staffer, introduced her and one other lady photographs.

“I do keep in mind taking a type of shot,” she stated. Higgins stated she was “publicly dancing” at one stage and felt unwell at one other level.

She remembered Lehrmann having his arm round her and touching her legs and thigh space, she advised the courtroom, and recalled a “thought strategy of discomfort”.

“I felt him being handsy with me. I used to be within the subject of tolerance. I didn’t push him away. I didn’t snap at him. I used to be coping with him touching me. I didn’t need it, however I used to be tolerating it.”

Lehrmann has denied touching Higgins or placing his arm round her. Requested if he did anything, Higgins stated: “Not that I recall.”

First assembly

Higgins stated she first met Lehrmann with two different staffers on the Kingston Resort on March 2, 2019, earlier than she began work in then-defence trade minister Linda Reynolds’ workplace with Lehrmann and others later that month.

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Higgins stated she stayed on the venue “longer than I supposed” and he or she was operating late to satisfy one other pal. Lehrmann advised her to remain for one more drink, she advised the courtroom, and he or she didn’t recall the opposite staffers “being as vocal or pushy about it”.

At one level, Lehrmann took her cellphone “in jest in order that I couldn’t go away for some time” as a result of she would wish her cellphone to guide an Uber, she stated. Lehrmann has denied taking Higgins’ cellphone. “I believed it was a joke,” she stated. “He simply took it for a time period so I might keep longer.”

Alleged kiss

Higgins stated that Lehrmann “tried to kiss me on the lips” after a workers dinner on the Kingston Resort on March 15, 2019, days earlier than the alleged rape.

“I apologised, I used to be shocked, I stated no, and he appeared embarrassed,” Higgins stated. “I simply naturally thought possibly I’d achieved one thing to offer him that impression.”

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

Lisa Wilkinson outside the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday.

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

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

Lawsuit ‘sure to fail’

If the courtroom finds Lehrmann was not directly recognized by the published, which didn’t title him, Ten and Wilkinson admit the interview conveyed the central declare of rape and are in search of to rely partly on a fact defence. Throughout his opening deal with, Collins stated Lehrmann’s case was “misconceived” and “sure to fail for quite a lot of causes”.

Lehrmann’s ACT legal trial for sexual assault was aborted in October final 12 months on account of juror misconduct and the cost was later dropped altogether amid considerations about Higgins’ psychological well being.

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