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Higgins returns to witness stand in Lehrmann trial

Brittany Higgins has returned to the witness stand in the Federal Court as part of Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson’s defamation battle with Bruce Lehrmann.

Mr Lehrmann is suing over Ms Wilkinson’s February 2021 interview with Ms Higgins on The Project in which she alleged she was raped by her former colleague in Parliament House.

Mr Lehrmann has denied the allegation, telling the Federal Court he did not have any sexual contact with Ms Higgins when they entered Parliament House on the morning of March 23, 2019.

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During her evidence, Ms Higgins previously told the court she was taped by Mr Lehrmann on the couch of Senator Linda Reynolds.

She on Tuesday morning resumed her evidence for what will be her fifth day in the witness stand.

Bruce Lehrmann is suing Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson for defamation. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short
Bruce Lehrmann is suing Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson for defamation. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

Brittany Higgins (left) is appearing as a witness for Network 10. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nikki Short.
Brittany Higgins (left) is appearing as a witness for Network 10. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nikki Short.

RE-TRIAL

Ms Higgins was on Friday questioned about comments she made to waiting media after Mr Lehrmann’s criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court was last year aborted due to juror misconduct.

Mr Lehrmann stood trial after pleading not guilty to one count of sexual assault.

The charges were subsequently dropped after prosecutors elected not to pursue a re-trial, and no findings have been made against him.

Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow on Friday questioned Ms Higgins whether her comments had the capacity to undermine the fairness of a future trial.

At that point, the matter was set to be the subject of a retrial before it was later abandoned.

“And you’re aware that was still a criminal matter before the courts where people shouldn’t comment,” Mr Whybrow said.

“I don’t know exactly, I was pretty distraught at the time,” Ms Higgins told the court on Friday.

“I’m not sure if it went into that level of granular detail or if I had an awareness that it was a (re-trial). I’m not sure.”

Lisa Wilkinson (right) with her barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nikki Short.
Lisa Wilkinson (right) with her barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nikki Short.

THE BRUISE

Ms Higgins was on Friday also questioned about a photo of a bruise which she says she took in the Parliament House toilets.

The court heard that during Mr Lehrmann’s criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court last year she maintained she sustained the bruise during the alleged rape.

However she said she now accepted it was possible that she suffered the bruise while falling up the stairs at a bar, 88MPH, on the same evening.

The court also heard that she told The Project that the bruise was caused by Mr Lehrmann.

Mr Whybrow suggested to Ms Higgins that the bruise was a “recent invention”.

“That’s incorrect,” Ms Higgins said.

The court heard that when Ms Higgins sent the photo to The Project producer Angus Llewellyn, she sent him a screenshot rather than the original.

Ms Higgins denied that she sent him a screenshot so it would not contain any metadata, which would establish when it was taken.

“There was no evidence that (the photo) was in existence before the start of 2021 other than what you said,” Mr Whybrow said.

“I did exist, I took it around the time of the assault,” Ms Higgins said on Friday.

“I reject (the assertion.)”

The trial before Justice Michael Lee continues.

Court reporter

Steve Zemek began his career in his native Queensland before moving to Sydney with Australian Associated Press in 2014. He worked as an NRL journalist for five seasons, covering the game all over Australia and in N…

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