Brittany Higgins questions whether she ‘may have been drugged’ on night Bruce Lehrmann allegedly raped her

The Nightly
Brittany Higgins  arrives at the David Malcolm Justice Centre.
Brittany Higgins arrives at the David Malcolm Justice Centre. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

Brittany Higgins has questioned whether she was drugged on the night she was allegedly raped by Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House, court documents have revealed.

The latest legal bombshell was contained in a submission made by Ms Higgins’ lawyer to the Federal Court in relation to Mr Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network 10 and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

In the document, which was released by the court on Tuesday, it suggested had Ms Higgins been a party to the proceedings; she would have properly interrogated a “master chronology”, which features an entry from an AFP officer indicating she may have been drugged on the night of the alleged rape.

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Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, Friday, November 24, 2023. The trial continues in Bruce Lehrmann's defamation cases against Network Ten. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi) NO ARCHIVING
The latest legal bombshell was contained in a submission made by Ms Higgins’ lawyer to the Federal Court in relation to Mr Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network 10 and journalist Lisa Wilkinson. Credit: BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAPIMAGE

Ms Higgins was invited by Justice Michael Lee, who has been presiding over the high-stakes defamation battle, to make further submissions in the case after evidence relating to her was brought up. Justice Lee said this was to avoid any “third party to the proceedings being denied procedural fairness”.

In the submission, her lawyer, Nicholas Owens SC, highlights a note from senior police officer Leanne Cross which says: “I also have concerns from info I heard that this may have happened before or could happen again. (I was referring to info that the alleged victim may have been drugged). Paul (Sherring) – we need to speak to a range of people. Security staff cleaners may have info.”

Mr Owens SC said the potential she was drugged “is not an issue that has been raised or explored in these proceedings”.

“While there is evidence now that there was ‘info’ that Ms Higgins was drugged, and that the concerns expressed in that note were held, the nature of that ‘info’ and the basis upon which the concerns were held was not explored,” he wrote.

“In the context of a serious challenge to the honesty and accuracy of Ms Higgins’ account of the events of the night in question, the potential that her perceptive and recollective abilities may have been affected other than by alcohol and trauma is an issue that she would have wished to explore.”

The revelations come after it emerged Justice Lee confirmed he would hand down his judgment in the fiercely fought, high-stakes defamation battle on Monday.

Journalist Lisa Wilkinson arrives at the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney, Thursday, April 4, 2024. Former Secen producer Taylor Auerbach has been called to give evidence in the defamation case brought by ex-Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann against Ten network and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over a February 2021 report on The Project during which fellow staffer Brittany Higgins claimed he raped her in a Parliament House office in 2019. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING
Mr Lehrmann launched legal action against Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson (pictured) over her interview on The Project with Ms Higgins, during which the former Liberal staffer alleged she was raped in Parliament House. Credit: DEAN LEWINS/AAPIMAGE

Mr Lehrmann launched legal action against Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson over her interview on The Project with Ms Higgins, during which the former Liberal staffer alleged she was raped in Parliament House.

While Mr Lehrmann was not named during the program, he claims he was nonetheless identified as the alleged rapist.

Mr Lehrmann has always denied the allegations. A criminal trial regarding the rape allegation against Mr Lehrmann was aborted due to juror misconduct.

A decision was due to be handed down last week but was delayed after Network 10 was given leave to reopen its case to hear fresh evidence from Seven Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach, who claimed in court the various ways the network secured its interview with Mr Lehrmann, and what material was provided.

More to come.

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