Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Tim Piccione

Lehrmann 'didn't pay attention' to Chief Justice, DPP during trial

Bruce Lehrmann has told a court he did not pay much attention to the territory's Chief Justice or then-top prosecutor during his criminal trial last year, when he stood accused of raping Brittany Higgins.

After an afternoon of being grilled under cross-examination by barrister Matthew Collins KC, Mr Lehrmann returned to the Federal Court witness box on Friday morning during his defamation trial proceedings.

Mr Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over a February 2021 story on The Project, which revealed Ms Higgins' claims of being raped at Parliament House two years earlier.

Dr Collins questioned Mr Lehrmann as to when he knew he had mistakenly told ACT Policing he did not have alcohol in his ministerial office, despite using that as one excuse for the after-house visit at the centre of the case.

Mr Lehrmann said he could not recall then Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC's closing address, which had described Mr Lehrmann as being inconsistent on the topic of alcohol.

"I didn't pay much attention to Mr Drumgold," Mr Lehrmann said.

Shane Drumgold and Chief Justice Lucy McCallum, both inset, whom Bruce Lehrmann says he did not pay much attention to during his criminal trial. Pictures by Karleen Minney, Gary Ramage

"Not really, no," he then responded if he paid attention when his police interview was addressed in the trial summary of Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

Dr Collins asked the man if he had taken his criminal trial seriously.

"I certainly did but by that point I had serious concerns about the conduct of it," he responded.

He then told the court he disagreed the judge's summary had been accurate.

Bruce Lehrmann is suing journalist Lisa Wilkinson. Pictures by Sylvia Liber and Karleen Minney

Dr Collins asked: "Which part was inaccurate, Mr Lehrmann?"

"I hold serious concerns about the way she summarised that case," Mr Lehrmann responded.

The Project interview did not name Mr Lehrmann as the person accused of sexually assaulting Ms Higgins at Parliament House in 2019 but the law student says he was identified by multiple details.

The defamation trial is expected to run until mid-December, with counsel for Ms Wilkinson and Ten, in part, aiming to prove the rape allegation is "substantially true".

Brittany Higgins addresses media outside court after a criminal trial was aborted due to juror misconduct. Picture by Karleen Minney

Mr Lehrmann has always denied raping Ms Higgins at Parliament House in 2019, when the pair worked for senator Linda Reynolds.

No findings have been made against him.

His criminal trial was aborted last October due to juror misconduct, with the charge of engaging in sexual intercourse without consent levelled at him later discontinued over concerns for Ms Higgins' mental health.

Mr Lehrmann has already settled two other defamation disputes relating to reporting and coverage of the allegation against News Corp and journalist Samantha Maiden, and the ABC.

The cross-examination continues.

  • Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 6247 2525.
Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.