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Brittany Higgins and Linda Reynolds to return to court for an unscheduled hearing

Tim Clarke
The Nightly
3 Min Read
The defamation battle between Brittany Higgins and Linda Reynolds is set for a surprise hearing on Tuesday.
The defamation battle between Brittany Higgins and Linda Reynolds is set for a surprise hearing on Tuesday. Credit: The Nightly

The ongoing defamation battle between outgoing Senator Linda Reynolds and her former staffer Brittany Higgins will return to court for a previously unscheduled hearing on Tuesday.

Ms Reynolds is suing Ms Higgins and her fiancée David Sharaz for defamation over a series of social media posts the pair published in 2022 and 2023, amid the fallout from Ms Higgins’ bombshell claims of rape in Parliament House.

That claim has since been found to be true by Federal Court judge Michael Lee, who ruled he was convinced to a civil standard that the former junior media advisor had been telling the truth in her interview with The Project in 2021.

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He came to that conclusion in his judgment which threw out a defamation claim by Ms Higgins’ attacker Bruce Lehrmann.

But he made another crucial finding, that the other claim in that story — of a political cover-up involving Ms Reynolds and others — was not true.

Ms Reynolds claimed that was a vindication of her.

And now, her claim for damages against Ms Higgins and Ms Sharaz has been brought back before WA’s Supreme Court early — for the first time since Justice Lee’s judgment was handed down.

The West Australian understands that is not because a settlement has been reached.

And the Perth lawyers in the case — Martin Bennett for Ms Reynolds or Jason MacLaurin for Mr Sharaz — could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Following Justice Lee’s lengthy judgment, Ms Reynolds said in a statement that the cover-up allegation had left deep wounds.

“For 3 years I have endured intense public scrutiny, vilification, vile trolling and have been demonised as the villain in a story of a political cover-up I have always known to be untrue,” she said.

“Fiona Brown and I have lost our careers, had our reputations destroyed and have had our health seriously and irreparably compromised.

Ms Higgins then issued a statement in which said stated she was sorry for the hurt suffered by her former boss, and her former chief of staff Fiona Brown.

“While I do not agree with all of Justice Lee’s findings, I do respect his observations about the many people scarred and damaged in the aftermath of my rape,” Ms Higgins said.

“All the various people who have been unwittingly wrapped up in years’ worth of media discourse and legal battles in relation to my rape.

“I want to particularly point out my family, who have been such an incredible support. They’ve been so strong, faced a seemingly unrelenting barrage of hate and have consistently held me together at times when I thought I would fall apart.

“Senator Reynolds and Fiona Brown have also been hurt and for that, I am also sorry. My perceptions and feelings about what happened in the days and weeks after my rape are different from theirs.

“I deeply regret we have not yet found common ground. I hope we can resolve our differences with a better understanding of each other’s experience.”

In response to that, Senator Reynolds seemed to suggest she would be continuing her defamation claim.

“At enormous emotional and financial cost, I have fought for three years to expose the truth in relation to my conduct,” she said.

“Looking forward, I welcome Ms Higgins’ olive branch and her commitment to engage with me to reach a resolution.

“What still lies between us are not different perceptions. It is a fact that Ms Higgins received our support and that there was no cover-up.

“If Ms Higgins does not accept Justice Lee’s findings on the claims of cover-up and mistreatment then, regrettably, it will have to be proved again in our trial set for July this year.”

Tuesday’s hearing will take place before Justice Paul Tottle at 2.15pm Perth time.

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