5 June 2023

Bruce Lehrmann 'not ruling out' suing Brittany Higgins personally for defamation

| Lizzie Waymouth
Bruce Lehrmann speaking to Spotlight

Bruce Lehrmann denied the allegation he raped Brittany Higgins, calling it a “white lie to save her job”. Photo: Screenshot.

In his first TV interview since Brittany Higgins accused him of raping her in Parliament House in 2019, Bruce Lehrmann said he has not ruled out suing Ms Higgins personally for defamation.

“I mean, that’s a possibility,” he told 7News Spotlight on Sunday (4 June).

“I haven’t ruled it out, but I’m cognisant of the fact that … it’s not a good look [to] kick someone when they’re down. I have some sympathy for her because she’s obviously got people around her who are not there for her; they’re there for their own agendas.”

Mr Lehrmann denied raping Ms Higgins in Parliament House while they were both working as staffers for former Defence minister Linda Reynolds. He described Ms Higgins’ allegations as a “white lie” told to protect her job after seeing Mr Lehrmann get fired by Ms Reynolds’ chief of staff, Fiona Brown.

“I think that a white lie to save a job occurred and, tick, that happened, because she saw me getting the turf,” he said.

“And then she’s come into contact with media elites that have latched onto this and, given the environment at the time, in 2021, to weaponise it and advance a movement really.”

READ ALSO Professionalism of ACT’s DPP brought into question at Board of Inquiry into handling of Lehrmann case

Mr Lehrmann is currently suing the ABC for broadcasting Ms Higgins’ Press Club speech and Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson for her interview with Ms Higgins for The Project. He also took action against News Life Media and journalist Samantha Maiden, which Mr Lehrmann said had “settled on satisfactory terms to both of us … that’s all I can say about that”.

“I’m not trying to be a millionaire out of this, in any way, in fact, the opposite … I’m not seeking mansions or a celebrity lifestyle on the other side of this.”

He spoke of his motivation to take action against the media outlets and the impact the extremely public nature of the trial has had.

“I don’t want to be known as the guy who could’ve, would’ve, allegedly raped Brittany Higgins. And that’s a tag that’s out there now, and I don’t have the court system to remove that tag anymore.

“I think it’s unfortunate that some people in the media consider themselves judge, jury and executioner,” he said later in the interview.

Mr Lehrmann said that, although he was not named in Ms Higgins’ interview with Lisa Wilkinson for The Project, the impact of the programme’s release made it clear to him that he was identifiable.

“Live before me, sitting in my lawyer’s office, I’m seeing friends of mine block me on Facebook, remove me from group chats,” he said.

“If that’s not a clear indication of being identified without having been named formally, I don’t know what is.”

READ ALSO Board of Inquiry into Lehrmann case adjourns, parties set to hear adverse findings next week

Mr Lehrmann was also scathing of ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC.

Mr Drumgold recently came under fire at the Board of Inquiry into the Territory’s handling of the Lehrmann matter, with several witnesses claiming that the top prosecutor had lost objectivity during the case.

Mr Lehrmann criticised the DPP for his language when he announced a retrial would be dropped due to concerns for Ms Higgins’ welfare.

“I formed a clear view that there was a reasonable prospect of conviction and this is a view that I still hold today,” Mr Drumgold had said.

“He took my opportunity for a not guilty verdict away from me, but he then told Australia, ‘I still could have won it’. What the f–?” Mr Lehrmann said.

Mr Lehrmann attended the first day of the Board of Inquiry. After watching the cross-examination of Mr Drumgold, Mr Lehrmann said, “This is the guy who ruined my life”.

“It was f–ing outrageous. This entire case was f–ed and Drumgold was central to that. He kicked things off and we’re finding out things that we should have had.”

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