Recap: Brittany Higgins takes stand for third day at Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial
Brittany Higgins has spent hours on the stand being grilled by Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyer in her cross-examination as part of a blockbuster defamation trial at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney.
Her testimony on Thursday involved Mr Lehrmann’s lawyer accusing her of “lies” regarding her recall of dates of key events.
Mr Lehrmann is suing Ms Wilkinson and Network 10 for defamation over allegations made by Ms Higgins during an interview on The Project that aired on February 15, 2021.
Mr Lehrmann has consistently denied Ms Higgins’ allegation that he sexually assaulted her in Senator Linda Reynolds’ office in Parliament House in the early hours of March 23, 2019.
For more details of today’s proceedings, read the recap below.
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The date of the kiss between Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann is debated and the court adjourns
Previously, Ms Higgins said she had definitively recalled the kiss had occurred on a Wednesday night.
Mr Whybrow asks if she has been telling lies.
Ms Higgins says she was simply trying to help with the evidence she put forward, even though she was unsure of when the kiss had actually occurred.
On Wednesday, Ms Higgins had told the court the kiss occurred on a Friday.
The court adjourns until 6am WST tomorrow.
Ms Higgins says she forgot to mention a kiss in police interview
The court looks at the transcript of the second record of an interview with police and Ms Higgins on May 26, 2021.
Ms Higgins says she didn’t mention in either interview that she was kissed by Mr Lehrmann, saying she didn’t think of it until later.
“At the time it seemed insignificant,” says Ms Higgins.
She says she was talking with someone informally, possibly a journalist. She says she hadn’t told the police but made sure they knew afterwards.
Mr Whybrow says Ms Higgins “invented” the kiss.
She says she must have been confused about when the kiss was.
Yesterday, she said it was on March 15, however, today she says she is unsure.
Ms Higgins struggles to recall details regarding an email to Mr Lehrmann
Mr Whybrow brings up the email saying Ms Higgins needed help with the task “Drew” set her.
She said she made a mistake in the email, saying the task was set by Ms Reynolds.
In the criminal trial on October 6, Ms Higgins said she sent an email to Mr Lehrmann asking for his help with the task.
She says she was mistaken and says the email was sent earlier.
Ms Higgins initially said the task was set the week prior, however, now she says it was within a three-week period.
“I’m admitting when I get things wrong,” she says.
“I’m not sure, I just know I was given (the task).”
Ms Higgins returns composed
Mr Whybrow is finishing discussing the meeting with the police on April 1.
Ms Higgins doesn’t recall whether she wanted to progress with a formal complaint with police.
Mr Whybrow brings up previous emails, Ms Higgins says it was a task set for her by Senator Linda Reynolds.
Ms Higgins says she had sent an email to many asking them to help her, including Mr Lehrmann.
She remembers sitting down with Drew Burlin and the minister.
Ms Higgins says it was a work task five years ago to get electorate breakdowns. She says she didn’t know whether she was stuck.
Ten-minute adjournment to allow Ms Higgins to recuperate
“The reason you didn’t go to the doctor was because you hadn’t been sexually assaulted,” Mr Whybrow said.
Ms Higgins, tearful, says she didn’t go because she didn’t have a support network around her.
Ms Wilkinson’s lawyers, concerned about Ms Higgins’ welfare, object to Mr Whybrow’s line of questioning and force the court to adjourn.
Justice Lee says the court will reconvene at 13:00 WST.
‘You didn’t have sex with anybody that night’
Mr Whybrow enquires about Ms Higgins’ understanding of the night she was allegedly raped, suggesting there are holes in her story.
“You wanted to keep your job. You had passed out naked and were found overnight,” Mr Whybrow said.
“You didn’t have sex with anybody that night, that’s correct, isn’t it?”
“That’s insulting and incorrect, but you’re entitled to your opinion,” Ms Higgins said.
“That’s not my opinion,” Mr Whybrow replied.
Take them down - or else
Justice Lee has ordered a particular YouTube account - which has been posting recordings of the evidence of Ms Higgins in clear breach of his direct orders - remove the postings or else.
“I will direct the Principal Registrar of the court to take appropriate steps to identify the operator of the account, and consider what further steps should be taken,” Justice Lee said.
He has also said he will consider at the end of the day whether the livestream of the proceedings should stay online, following various abusive posts on social media.
The evidence of Ms Higgins has now continued.
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