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Higgins denies ‘bolstering’ rape claims

Former political staffer Brittany Higgins denies telling colleagues about a doctor’s appointment in order to “bolster” her rape allegations.

October 7, 2022
By Maeve Bannister
7 October 2022

Brittany Higgins has vehemently denied pretending to have booked doctor’s appointments in the week after her alleged rape to “bolster” her story. 

The former Liberal Party staffer is being cross-examined as the first witness in the criminal trial of Bruce Lehrmann, who has been accused of raping her in Parliament House.

He has pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.

Ms Higgins earlier told the court she made the appointments with every intention of going but due to her depressive state she was not physically able to attend.

Defence lawyer Steven Whybrow put to Ms Higgins she did not go to the doctor because she had not had sex with anyone.

“That’s not true,” she told the ACT Supreme Court on Friday. 

Mr Whybrow suggested Ms Higgins had told her former partner Ben Dillaway and chief of staff Fiona Brown about the appointments to “bolster” her rape allegation. 

“Nothing you are saying right now is true … and it’s deeply insulting,” Ms Higgins said.

She told Mr Whybrow she didn’t know if he had experienced trauma before but that it was a difficult thing to confront head on.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” she said. 

Mr Whybrow also put to Ms Higgins she did not tell Ms Brown about the alleged assault in a meeting the following week.

He suggested the meeting was rather about the security breach, which was reported to Ms Brown as a result of Ms Higgins and Lehrmann accessing a ministerial office late at night.   

“I obviously disagree with that completely,” Ms Higgins said.

She confirmed she deleted some messages and photos from her phone before handing it over to police.

The jury heard it was not her intent to keep information from the officers investigating her alleged rape.

Asked by Mr Whybrow if she remembered deleting the messages, Ms Higgins said “potentially”.

She told the court she cleared her phone of photographs showing her holding alcohol or with politicians.

“I wanted to scrub all the horrible parts of my life out of my day-to-day existence,” she said.

Ms Higgins described her phone as her “life” and said she didn’t want to see photos of former minister Linda Reynolds, for whom she worked when the alleged assault happened.

“I didn’t want to see her face … Sorry, she’s not a bad person. But it is what it is,” she said.

Ms Higgins sent a number of audio files to her boyfriend David Sharaz before giving her phone to police when she reopened her complaint in 2021, because she worried they would be lost.

She denied withholding the audio from the police and said she provided the recordings on a USB along with her phone. 

Ms Higgins was terrified senior Liberal ministers would find out about her reopening the complaint. 

She became emotional as the recalled then-home affairs minister Peter Dutton knowing about her wish to reopen the case before she had given evidence to police. 

“I know how information flows in the ministerial wing. I know that it’s not siloed,” she told the court.

“I was seeking legal advice to know my rights because I was terrified.”

The trial continues.

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