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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Christopher Knaus

Brittany Higgins repeats offer to give evidence in Bruce Lehrmann defamation action

Former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins (C) arrives at the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra, Australia, 27 October 2022.
Brittany Higgins (centre) arriving at court during the aborted trial last October. Higgins has reiterated her willingness to testify against Bruce Lehrmann, who denies her allegation that he raped her in Parliament House. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

Brittany Higgins has reaffirmed her willingness to give evidence in defamation proceedings following Bruce Lehrmann’s decision to file civil claims against two media outlets.

Lehrmann’s legal team on Tuesday filed two civil cases in the federal court for defamation, one against the publisher of and the other against Channel Ten.

The two outlets were the first to carry Higgins’ allegations that she was raped in the ministerial office of her then boss Linda Reynolds. The initial stories did not name Lehrmann but he will argue he was identifiable from the reporting.

On Wednesday, after reporting about the lodgement of Lehrmann’s defamation claims, Higgins retweeted a December 2022 tweet in which she said was willing to be “a witness in any potential civil cases brought about by Mr Lehrmann”.

Her retweet on Wednesday added simply:

“A timely reminder.”

The trial against Lehrmann collapsed due to juror misconduct last year. A retrial was abandoned by prosecutors due to concerns about Higgins’ mental health.

Lehrmann has vehemently denied the allegations against him.

Federal court registry records show Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and News Life Media, the publisher of He filed a statement of claim, originating application, and genuine steps statement in the Ten case at 3.18pm on Tuesday, with the second case filed about 20 minutes later.

Lehrmann has engaged defamation lawyer Mark O’Brien, who has previously worked for Ben Roberts-Smith.

Last year, Lehrmann was understood to be contemplating defamation proceedings against a range of outlets, including the ABC and others, who broadcast live a statement by Higgins outside court after the collapse of the first trial. He sent concerns notices or letters of demand to Paramount and the radio station WSFM, among others.

The cases against Channel Ten and are understood to be the only proceedings filed in court at this point.

Reynolds is separately pursuing a complaint of defamation against Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz.

Last week, the ACT government announced that an independent inquiry into the handling of the case would be completed by Walter Sofronoff KC, an eminent retired Queensland judge.

The inquiry was prompted after explosive allegations about police conduct made by the director of public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold. The allegations were detailed in a letter to the police chief, Neil Gaughan, obtained by the Guardian through freedom of information laws.

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