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“Beyond excited": Brittany Higgins announces pregnancy

<p>Brittany Higgins and her husband David Sharaz have announced that they are expecting their first child.</p> <p>The couple, who are living overseas, took to Instagram on Saturday to share the exciting family update. </p> <p>"Can't wait to meet you! Beyond excited to welcome a new member to our little family," she posted with an image of baby clothes hanging on a washing line. </p> <p>“Your parents are already obsessed with you and you aren’t even here yet.”</p> <p>Fans took to the comments to send their best wishes to the future parents. </p> <p>“I just got as close as I can to jumping for joy oh my goodness,” one person wrote.</p> <p>“What a beautiful lucky glorious thing for this little one to have you as its mama."</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C9ZrkmxMPcS/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C9ZrkmxMPcS/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Brittany Higgins (@brittanyhiggins___)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“This is ridiculously exciting," another wrote. </p> <p>"Congratulations guys! You are going to be the best parents!" a third commented. </p> <p>"Oh Brittany, this is just the best news. A beautiful little cherub for you to both love and cherish. Huge, huge congratulations," added another. </p> <p>The happy couple recently tied the knot at one of Australia's most exclusive wedding venues, The Valley Estate on the Gold Coast, in June. </p> <p>They first met in 2020, when Sharaz was working as a producer for Karl Stefanovic's brother Pete on his <em>Sky News </em>breakfast program. </p> <p>Higgins and her husband have lived in southern France since last December.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"Take it back to her”: Parents' heartbroken plea to thieves who targeted their daughter's grave

<p>When three-year-old Brittany Conway died after swelling a button battery, news of her death made headlines and prompted urgent warnings to parents everywhere. </p> <p>Now, just one month out from the four-year anniversary of Brittany's death, her parents are grieving all over again after their daughter's grave was targeted by callous thieves, who took off with a "precious" keepsake. </p> <p>“She was a vivacious little girl, there was a sparkle in her eye,” Brittany’s mother Lorraine told <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/our-little-princess-parents-anguish-after-precious-item-stolen-from-childs-grave-c-15205766" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>7News</em></a>. “She was a very loving, gentle, funny character.”</p> <p>Brittany’s love of tiaras was immortalised when one was placed inside a locked glass-front box attached to her grave.</p> <p>“Brittany loved wearing big bows and pretty dresses, she loved the tiaras and high heels,” Lorraine said.</p> <p>“We just wanted her to know she was our little princess.”</p> <p>Brittany's parents were heartbroken when they discovered that thieves had pried open the lockbox on the grave and stolen the tiara. </p> <p>“I was so angry to think someone had taken something so precious, taken it out of somewhere so sacred,” Lorraine said.</p> <p>The local Gold Coast community has rallied around the family, offering to replace the tiara and even reward money for the beloved item to be returned.</p> <p>Brittany’s parents are still hoping the tiara will be returned, and sharing a public message to the thief that they “did not hate them” for what they had done, but urged them to give the item back.</p> <p>“I’m still angry, I’m hurt, but my main thing now is to get (the tiara) home, and bring it back to Brittany where it belongs,” Lorraine said.</p> <p>“They haven’t thought about how much of an impact it has had on the family."</p> <p>“If you’re watching this, and you’ve taken it, I don’t hate you — just take it back to her.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Brittany Higgins ties the knot in Gold Coast wedding

<p>Brittany Higgins has tied the knot with her long-term partner David Sharaz in an intimate Gold Coast wedding surrounded by friends and family. </p> <p>The former political staffer took to Instagram on Sunday to share the happy news. </p> <p>"Today I married my best friend. 🤍"  she wrote in the caption, alongside three photos from the ceremony. </p> <p>The pair married at The Valley Estate in Currumbin on the first day of winter, with the bride wearing a wedding dress featuring  a long sleeve lace bodice and a tulle skirt. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C7qtn0OPJwc/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C7qtn0OPJwc/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Brittany Higgins (@brittanyhiggins___)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Higgins and Shiraz got engaged on New Year's Eve in 2022, at Cape Byron lighthouse in Byron Bay NSW. </p> <p>"I didn't want to enter another year without you knowing I want to spend all my years with you, Brittany Higgins," Shiraz posted the day after he proposed to Higgins. </p> <p>"I'm the luckiest guy in the world."</p> <p>Their wedding comes just six weeks after Justice Michael Lee handed down his judgment in Lehrmann's defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson. </p> <p>The Federal Court found the allegation that he raped Brittany Higgins in a Parliament House office in March 2019 most likely true, and he has been forced to pay the majority of Network Ten's multi-million dollar <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/brutal-cost-of-bruce-lehrmann-s-failed-defamation-case" target="_blank" rel="noopener">legal fees</a>. </p> <p>After the ruling, Higgins released a lengthy statement saying: "It has been five years of criminal and civil trials and government inquiries for the truth to finally be heard.</p> <p>"It is now time to heal."</p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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Judge finds Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins and dismisses Network 10 defamation case. How did it play out?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-clift-715691">Brendan Clift</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Bruce Lehrmann has lost his defamation suit against Channel Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson after the media defendants proved, on the balance of probabilities, that Lehrmann raped his colleague Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.</p> <p>After a trial lasting around a month, Federal Court Justice Michael Lee – an experienced defamation judge – concluded that both Lehrmann and Higgins had credibility issues, but ultimately <a href="https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2024/2024fca0369">he was persuaded</a> that Lehrmann raped Higgins, as she’d alleged and he’d denied.</p> <h2>Criminal trials by proxy</h2> <p>Ordinarily, charges like rape would be resolved through the criminal courts, but Lehrmann’s criminal trial was <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-27/jury-discharged-in-trial-of-bruce-lehrmann-brittany-higgins/101583486">aborted</a> in October 2022 after juror misconduct. The charges against him were soon <a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/courts-law/bruce-lehrmann-sexual-assault-charge-dropped-dpp-confirms/news-story/3f82dd388d2cfa38680f7d4f4ceb1c5e">dropped</a>, nominally over concerns for Higgins’ mental health.</p> <p>Higgins, however, foresaw civil proceedings and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/dec/05/brittany-higgins-volunteered-to-be-defamation-trial-witness-as-she-would-not-let-rapist-become-a-millionaire-ntwnfb">offered to testify</a> should they arise. That they did, as Lehrmann, free from the burden of any proven crime, sued several media outlets for defamation over their reporting into the allegations (<a href="https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/online-files/lehrmann">the ABC</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/dec/06/abc-agrees-to-pay-bruce-lehrmann-150000-to-settle-defamation-claim-court-documents-reveal">News Corp</a> both settled out of court).</p> <p><iframe class="flourish-embed-iframe" style="width: 100%; height: 550px;" title="Interactive or visual content" src="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/17195035/embed" width="100%" height="400" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" sandbox="allow-same-origin allow-forms allow-scripts allow-downloads allow-popups allow-popups-to-escape-sandbox allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation"></iframe></p> <div style="width: 100%!; margin-top: 4px!important; text-align: right!important;"><a class="flourish-credit" href="https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/17195035/?utm_source=embed&amp;utm_campaign=visualisation/17195035" target="_top"><img src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/made_with_flourish.svg" alt="Made with Flourish" /></a></div> <p>Like Ben Roberts-Smith’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/dismissed-legal-experts-explain-the-judgment-in-the-ben-roberts-smith-defamation-case-191503">recent defamation suit</a> against the former Fairfax papers, this became another case of civil proceedings testing grave allegations in the absence of a criminal law outcome.</p> <p>The form of proceedings made for some key differences with the aborted criminal trial. In criminal cases, prosecutors are ethically bound to act with moderation in pursuing a conviction, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, while defendants have the right to silence. By contrast, this trial featured detailed accounts from both sides as each sought to convince, in essence, that their contentions were likely to be correct.</p> <p>Also like the Roberts-Smith case, live streaming of the trial generated very high levels of public engagement. Today’s stream reached audiences of more than 45,000 people. It gave us the chance to assess who and what we believe, and to scrutinise the parties’ claims and the media’s reporting. The Federal Court doesn’t have juries, but we, the public, acted as a de facto panel of peers.</p> <p>We saw accusations and denials, revealing <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-23/bruce-lehrmann-defamation-trial-network-ten-lisa-wilkinson-ends/103260752">cross-examination</a> of the protagonists, witness testimony from colleagues, CCTV footage from nightclubs to Parliament House complete with lip-reading, expert testimony on alcohol consumption and consent, and lawyers constructing timelines which supported or poked holes in competing versions of events.</p> <p>The complexity of high-stakes legal proceedings was on display, with Justice Lee issuing many interim decisions on questions of procedure and evidence. Whenever transparency was at stake, it won.</p> <p>The preference for full disclosure led to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/law/2024/apr/02/bruce-lehrmann-defamation-trial-network-10-fresh-evidence-bid-lisa-wilkinson-brittany-higgins-delay-ntwnfb">case being re-opened</a> at the eleventh hour to call former Channel 7 producer Taylor Auerbach as a witness, providing a denouement that the judge called “sordid”, but which had little relevance to the final result.</p> <h2>An argument over the truth</h2> <p>Lehrmann had the burden of proving that the defendants published matter harmful to his reputation. That matter was Wilkinson’s interview with Higgins on Channel Ten’s The Project in which the allegations were made.</p> <p>A statement is only defamatory if it’s untrue, but in Australian law, the publisher bears the burden of proving truth, should they opt for that defence. And more serious allegations usually require more compelling proof, as the law views them as inherently more unlikely.</p> <p>This can be onerous for a defamation defendant, but it also involves risk for the plaintiff, should the defendant embark on an odyssey of truth-telling yet more damaging to the plaintiff’s image. That happened to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-65717684">Ben Roberts-Smith</a> and it happened to Lehrmann here.</p> <p>On the other hand, if the media hasn’t done their homework, as in <a href="https://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2023/2023fca1223">Heston Russell’s case</a> against the ABC (also presided over by Justice Lee), the complainant can be vindicated.</p> <p>This case was a manifestation of Lehrmann’s professed desire to “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/oct/26/how-bruce-lehrmanns-media-interviews-cost-him-his-anonymity-in-toowoomba-case">light some fires</a>”. Few players in this extended saga have emerged without scars, and here he burned his own fingers, badly.</p> <p>As Justice Lee put it, Lehrmann, “having escaped the lion’s den [of criminal prosecution], made the mistake of coming back to get his hat”.</p> <h2>How was the case decided?</h2> <p>Lehrmann denied having sex with Higgins, whereas Higgins alleged there had been non-consensual sex. The defamatory nature of the publication centred on the claim of rape, so that was what the media defendants sought to prove.</p> <p>This left open the curious possibility that consensual sex might have taken place: if so, Lehrmann would have brought his case on a false premise (there had been no sex), but the media would have failed to defend it (by not proving a lack of consent), resulting in a Lehrmann win.</p> <p>That awkward scenario did not arise. The court found sex did in fact take place, Higgins in her heavily-inebriated and barely-conscious state did not give consent, and Lehrmann was so intent on his gratification that he ignored the requirement of consent.</p> <p>Justice Lee found Lehrmann to be a persistent, self-interested liar, whereas Higgin’s credibility issues were of lesser degree, some symptomatic of a person piecing together a part-remembered trauma. The judge drew strongly on the evidence of certain neutral parties who could testify to incidents or words spoken in close proximity to the events.</p> <h2>Defamation laws favour the aggrieved</h2> <p>Australian defamation law has historically favoured plaintiffs and, despite recent <a href="https://www.ruleoflaw.org.au/civil/defamation/2021-law-reform/">rebalancing attempts</a>, it remains a favoured legal weapon for those with the resources to use it.</p> <p>This includes our political class, who sue their critics for defamation with unhealthy frequency for a democracy. In the United States, public figures don’t have it so easy: to win they must prove their critics were lying.</p> <p>In Australia, the media sometimes succeeds in proving truth, but contesting defamation proceedings comes at great financial cost and takes an emotional toll on the journalists involved.</p> <p>Nor can a true claim always be proven to a court’s satisfaction, given the rules of evidence and the fact that sources may be reluctant to testify or protected by a reporter’s guarantee of confidentiality.</p> <p>But this case demonstrates that publishers with an appetite for the legal fight can come out on top.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225891/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brendan-clift-715691"><em>Brendan Clift</em></a><em>, Lecturer of law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/judge-finds-bruce-lehrmann-raped-brittany-higgins-and-dismisses-network-10-defamation-case-how-did-it-play-out-225891">original article</a>.</em></p>

Legal

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“That’s insulting”: Brittany Higgins grilled over "fabricated" allegations

<p>Brittany Higgins has denied she lied when she accused Bruce Lehrmann of sexually assaulting her in Parliament House. </p> <p>Higgins was called to give evidence on Thursday, as part of Lehrmann's defamation suit against Lisa Wilkinson and Channel Ten, when she was grilled during cross-examination by Lehrmann’s barrister Steven Whybrow SC.</p> <p>“That is a fabrication that you were sexually assaulted,” Whybrow said.</p> <p>“I understand that is your assertion. It’s insulting but I understand it,” Higgins replied. </p> <p>Whybrow’s questioning revolved around how Higgins’ recollection of events changed between statements she gave to the police, in court, to journalists from Ten and a news website, and in the first draft of a book she sent to publisher Penguin Random House.</p> <p>One example was that the location of a box of chocolates eaten after the alleged rape had changed between versions.</p> <p>“I want to suggest to you that is an example of your evidence evolving as you find out new information,” Whybrow said.</p> <p>“No, I don’t accept that,” Higgins answered.</p> <p>She admitted giving incorrect statements to Wilkinson and Ten producer Angus Llewellyn during a five-hour interview conducted in January 2021, before she was filmed for bombshell <em>The Project</em> broadcast that first aired Brittany's story. </p> <p>These claims, which included what security did and what she was wearing after the alleged rape, were based on her beliefs at the time, the court was told.</p> <p>Lehrmann has also already given evidence in which he admitted to a number of lies and false statements he gave to police, Parliament House security, his employer and supervisor, and the media.</p> <p>Lehrmann is suing Lisa Wilkinson and Channel Ten for defamation, specifically citing a February 2021 report on <em>The Project</em> in which Higgins was interviewed and her sexual assault story made national headlines. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Legal

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Brittany Higgins' powerful message of solidarity to Bruce Lehrmann's alleged victim

<p>Brittany Higgins has shared a powerful statement of solidarity to Bruce Lehrmann's alleged victim. </p> <p>Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann has been charged with two counts of rape, relating to an incident alleged to have occurred in Queensland in October 2021.</p> <p>Lehrmann was only <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/bruce-lehrmann-revealed-as-high-profile-figure-accused-of-rape-in-queensland" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently named</a> as the "high-profile figure" accused of the crime, after a judge made the decision to reject his suppression order, which kept his name out of the press and not related to the incident. </p> <p>Once Lehrmann was named as the defendant in the sexual assault case, Brittany Higgins was quick to share a passionate message to his alleged victim. </p> <p>Taking to Instagram stories, Brittany wrote, "When I first found out about the alleged sexual assault my heart broke for you." </p> <p>"To know that this has allegedly taken place while he was out on bail in 2021 is devastating."</p> <p>"I note the fact you've decided to come forward despite seeing the horrific championing of this individual in the media all year."</p> <p>"I am so, so sorry this allegedly happened to you". </p> <p>After Brittany's post garnered widespread attention, Lehrmann was quick to point out a crucial mistake in her statement. </p> <p>Mr Lehrmann was not on any kind of bail in the lead-up to his aborted trial in October 2022, as he was only on bail after the mistrial in relation to the Queensland matter.</p> <p>Lehrmann told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12684925/Brittany-Higgins-message-Bruce-Lehrmann-Toowoomba.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>, "I'd just note if Ms Higgins is going to try and kibosh the human right of a fair trial again and also further defame me, at least get your facts right before you post."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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"This is absurd": PM mocks bizarre Higgins conspiracy

<p>Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has denied claims Senator Katy Gallagher misled Parliament over what she knew about <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/lisa-wilkinson-denies-turning-to-senior-politicians-over-higgins-rape-allegations" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations</a>, dubbing it a “bizarre conspiracy”.</p> <p>Amid the Coalition preparing to target the Finance Minister and Labor during question time, Albanese is backing the Senator completely.</p> <p>He said the real questions were around how the Morrison Government mishandled the issue and not about how Higgins’ boyfriend tipped off Senator Gallagher.</p> <p>“This is absurd,” Albanese declared.</p> <p>“It’s a bizarre conspiracy theory – this concocted issue by what is a desperate Liberal opposition looking for any issue.</p> <p>“Katy Gallagher has been transparent.”</p> <p>The uproar follows the leaking of a six-hour audio tape that hears Higgins’ partner David Sharaz bragging to The Project that he had a connection with Senator Gallagher and in turn, she would drive the story forward in Senate estimates.</p> <p>Network Ten has lodged a police complaint over the leak after a tape of Lisa Wilkinson and Brittany Higgins was seen on a rival channel.</p> <p>Thomson Geer law firm partner Marlia Saunders, who is currently acting for Network Ten in the defamation proceedings, has confirmed she has filed a complaint to Australian Capital Territory Policing.</p> <p>Ten has complained that the material used was obtained via coercive subpoenas for the criminal trial and should have remained under wraps.</p> <p>“Last Wednesday, Ten made a complaint to the AFP requesting they investigate an apparent contempt of court,” Saunders told news.com.au.</p> <p>It relates to material produced under an AFP warrant and a subpoena issued in the ACT Supreme Court which Saunders said “appears to have been disclosed to the media in breach of the implied undertaking.”</p> <p>“The AFP yesterday confirmed the complaint has been received for consideration,” she said.</p> <p>The leaked audio tape first aired on Channel Seven during a televised interview on the Spotlight program, it has since been leaked to <em>The Daily Mail</em>,<em> The Australian</em> and <em>Sky News</em>.</p> <p>The ACT Supreme Court did not release the entire audio at the trial, but parts of it were played to the jury.</p> <p>The audio hears Wilkinson describing former Defence Minister Linda Reynolds as “a nobody” and an “idiot”, and saying “who is this f***king woman”.</p> <p>It also recorded the group war gaming the story and suggested Albanese would “definitely” raise the issue in time. Wilkinson has confirmed she never contacted him to do so.</p> <p>The leaked texts show private discussions with Wilkinson’s husband Peter Fitz-Simons regarding a $325,000 book deal and Sharaz describing then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a “c***t”.</p> <p>Higgins’ private text messages were provided to the police and lawyers during the criminal trials, and have since been leaked by sources unknown to media outlets.</p> <p>In the text messages, Sharaz suggested he had forwarded the entire transcript of Higgins’ interview with Lisa Wilkinson to Senator Gallagher before the story aired.</p> <p>Channel 10 were seemingly unaware that Sharaz had forwarded the transcript, which was also a signed statutory declaration, to other parties before the broadcast.</p> <p>In June 2021, Senator Gallagher was in a state of fury when the then-Defence Minister Linda Reynolds proposed she “knew where this started”, adding she had been tipped off by a Labor Senator before the story broke about what the ALP was planning.</p> <p>“No one had any knowledge. How dare you! It’s all about protecting yourself,” Senator Gallagher said at the time.</p> <p>Speaking at an ALP conference in Fremantle, Senator Gallagher was asked if she would stand aside or resign.</p> <p>“Why would I?" she said.</p> <p>“I was responding to an assertion that was being made by the minister Reynolds at the time that we had known about this for weeks and had made a decision to weaponise it,” she continued.</p> <p>“That is not true. It was never true. I explained that to Senator Reynolds that night and she accepted that explanation.”</p> <p>“Mr Sharaz provided me with information, I think we’ve seen that in the paper in the last couple of days,” she said.</p> <p>“I did nothing with that information. And I was clear about that at the time.</p> <p>“There’s absolutely no issue here at all,” she insisted.</p> <p>“I’ve been clear, I’ve been honest. And at all times, I’ve been guided by the bravery and courage of a young woman who chose to speak up about her workplace. And from that we have had massive changes to that workplace because of the problem.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty</em></p>

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Lisa Wilkinson denies turning to senior politicians over Higgins’ rape allegations

<p>Channel 10 personality and former <em>The Project </em>host Lisa Wilkinson has denied claims that she approached senior level politicians with a request to pose questions about Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations against Bruce Lehrmann during Question Time. </p> <p>The dismissal came in the wake of Channel 7’s <em>Spotlight </em>episode featuring the formerly accused, where a recording of a phone call between Wilkinson, her producer Angus Llewellyn, Higgins, and Higgins’ partner David Sharaz was exposed.</p> <p>During the conversation, which was recorded in January 2021, they were reportedly discussing which politicians they might be able to work with to steer the conversation in parliament, with Wilkinson telling Higgins that she wanted to see her “enunciate the fact that this place [Parliament House] is all about suppression of people’s natural sense of justice”. </p> <p>Sharaz noted that he had a “friend in Labor”, and that Senator Katy Gallagher could “probe and continue it [the conversation] going”. At one stage, Wilkinson went so far as to claim that “certainly Albo” should be considered, though she later went on to retract that, and suggested “Tanya Plibersek, definitely”. </p> <p>And while Sharaz had questioned what Wilkinson hoped to gain from the conversation, Wilkinson assured them that that wasn’t the case. </p> <p>“No. Whether it’s white privilege, male domination, whether it’s, you know, criminal activity. I am from the western suburbs of Sydney. I have always been motivated by exactly the same thing, people who deserve to be heard not being heard,” she explained. </p> <p>Wilkinson had more to say on the matter when it came to the likes of former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop, sharing her frustration about the “many opportunities” she had to “speak out against the culture”. </p> <p>“The minute she was out of there [she said], ‘oh it’s really sexist’,” Wilkinson added. “I tried to get her on the record with that so many times when she could’ve actually effected change, and she wouldn’t.”</p> <p>And now, despite the leaked recording - which was handed over by Channel 10 under subpoena during the criminal trial, with more shared on TV than in court - Wilkinson has released a statement to declare that she did not approach the politicians in question. </p> <p>“Nor did I speak to any other politicians, their minders or apparatchiks,” she said.</p> <p>The audio came up during Sunrise as well, when Natalie Barr asked their entertainment commentator, Peter Ford, whether or not the recording might be a problem down the line. </p> <p>“Was that coaching?” she asked. “Or was that a journalist talking before the interview?”</p> <p>Ford agreed that it was a fine line, then added, “but I generally think when someone says, ‘I don’t want to put words in your mouth,’ that is exactly what they want to do.”</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Never-before-seen CCTV sheds new light into Bruce Lehrmann rape allegations

<p dir="ltr">Bruce Lehrmann, the man who was accused of sexually assaulting former political staffer Brittany Higgins in Parliament House, has shared his take in his first television interview with<em> 7News Spotlight</em>. </p> <p dir="ltr">The rape charge against Lehrmann - which was eventually dropped - could be traced back to March 2019, when both Lehrmann and Higgins were working for Linda Reyonlds, a former defence minister. </p> <p dir="ltr">In the time since, Lehrmann has repeatedly denied the accusations, and continued to do so while speaking to <em>Spotlight</em>’s Liam Bartlett. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Lehrmann, he was with Higgins and fellow Defence staff members for drinks on the night of the alleged rape, with Lehrmann suggesting that they should move their festivities to a different venue - a nearby club.</p> <p dir="ltr">Their night out continued into the small hours of the next day, and Lehrmann noted that he had suggested sharing a ride home with Higgins, as they both apparently lived in the same direction from the party. </p> <p dir="ltr">As he told Bartlett, he had to grab his keys - as well as file some notes - from the office en route, with the two arriving at Parliament House at around 2am. Lehrmann didn't have his pass, claiming that he “probably just forgot it” as he “wasn’t expecting it to be a big night.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And as he informed Bartlett, he remembered Higgins telling him that she needed to visit the office too, and claimed that he didn’t know why.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, over the course of the rape trial, Lehrmann offered three different reasons as to why he’d had to visit Parliament House. The police were told that he needed his apartment keys, but Parliament House security were told that he had been asked to pick up some documents, ​​ and Reynolds’ then-chief of staff Fiona Brown was told that the two had gone into the office to share whiskey. </p> <p dir="ltr">While that detail is unclear, the episode featured never-before-seen CCTV footage of Lehrmann and Higgins that confirmed the two had been together at both bar and Parliament House. </p> <p dir="ltr">First, the two could be seen at Canberra’s The Dock bar with their colleagues. And then, at 1:47am, they were recorded entering Reynold’s office, before Lehrmann was spotted leaving Parliament House at 2:30am.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lehrmann claimed that once they were let into the office, he and Higgins didn’t exchange any words, and instead parted ways. According to Lehrmann, that was the last he saw of her. </p> <p dir="ltr">He told Bartlett that he hadn’t let Higgins know he was leaving, only for Bartlett to ask why they hadn’t gotten a ride home together. </p> <p dir="ltr">“She didn’t tell me she needed to go home,” Lehrmann said. “She told me she also had to go to parliament.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Bartlett questioned it further, wondering why Lehrmann hadn’t checked in on Higgins, but Lehrmann maintained that his mind “was focussed on getting my keys, noting down what I needed to note down.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And when asked about Higgins being found naked in Reynold’s office, Lehrmann continued to deny the allegations, instead offering that he couldn’t “talk to her because I never saw her again. That was news to me, with the rest of the country.” </p> <p dir="ltr">As Bartlett then pointed out, “you can then see the contradiction in this. She’s naked on a couch, but here you are acting like a Buddhist monk, making post-it note stickers for a minister.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: 7NEWS Spotlight / Seven</em></p>

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"A national hero": Grace Tame's tribute to Brittany Higgins

<p>Grace Tame has wished Brittany Higgins a happy birthday in the form of an emotional tribute.</p> <p>The former Australian of the Year shared a behind the scenes photo of the pair from their cover shoot with Marie Claire magazine in November 2021 of their "Women of the Year" issue. </p> <p>The photo shows the women smiling and looking relaxed, but Grace explained the picture was "nothing like the reality of that day."</p> <p>“It was anxiety, distress, exhaustion, invasion of personal space, and a quarter of an hour spent in the bathroom decompressing afterwards at dinner. It was tears.”</p> <p>In her moving tribute to Ms Higgins, Ms Tame said her friend was a “warrior” and “a national hero”.</p> <p>“Over the past 18 months of getting to know Brittany Higgins, I have been moved by a person who is thoughtful and measured, who is reserved and self-effacing."</p> <p>“I have been awed and floored by her intelligence, kindness, vulnerability and determination to keep fighting for herself and others."</p> <div id="indie-campaign-EAbKwvW1L2TJ5OnFRiOT-0" data-campaign-name="NCA LIFESTYLE Newsletter OneClick SignUp" data-campaign-indie="newsletter-signup" data-jira="" data-from="1650290400000" data-to="1681826400000"></div> <p>“She has provided support, comfort and reinforcement for myself and others amid some of the darkest, loneliest times. She is indeed a light.”</p> <p>Ms Tame also praised Ms Higgins for her response to national scrutiny in the face of her trial agains Bruce Lehrmann. </p> <p>“Brittany Higgins has taken every step of her excruciating journey under a microscope; with a nation breathing down her neck. This is no mean feat."</p> <p>“I am not a judge or jury, but I am a person who has also walked repeatedly in the line of fire – often alone – and it is not for the faint-hearted."</p> <p>“However, it is not for this reason that I stand with Brittany. It is simply because she is a decent human being. I stand with Brittany because I have compassion for her."</p> <p>“Brittany Higgins is a national hero.”</p> <p>Ms Higgins spent her 28th birthday on Wednesday in a mental health clinic in Queensland, after her trial against Mr Lehrmann was dropped out of fears for her mental health. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

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Brittany Higgins' accused sets sights on Lisa Wilkinson

<p>Bruce Lehrmann has hired one of Australia's top defamation lawyers to go after Lisa Wilkinson, the ABC, The Project, and other media outlets for their coverage of Brittany Higgins' trial. </p> <p>The news of the defamation lawsuits comes just days after it was announced that Higgins' case against Lehrmann would be <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/news/news/brittany-higgins-speaks-publicly-for-first-time-since-dropped-charges" target="_blank" rel="noopener">dropped</a>. </p> <p>Sydney defamation lawyer Mark O’Brien, whose law firm represented Ben Roberts-Smith VC in his defamation battle with Fairfax/Nine newspapers, has confirmed on Wednesday that he has now joined the former Liberal staffer's legal team.</p> <p>Lawyers examine a large volume of media reports and public speeches over the last two years, including Higgins' address at the National Press Club alongside former Australian of the Year Grace Tame earlier this year. </p> <p>Mr Lehrmann was not named in original media reports but his legal team are examining whether he was nevertheless able to be identified, giving him grounds to sue for defamation of his character. </p> <p>The former Liberal staffer was not named until August, 2021 when he was charged by police with one count of sex without consent.</p> <p>He pleaded not guilty, and has always maintained his innocence throughout the high profile case.</p> <p>The Sydney law firm O’Brien Legal is examining the original interview broadcast by The Project and Lisa Wilkinson’s public statement about the case and potential respondents including producers of The Project, Roving Enterprises, owned by comedian Rove McManus; and Network Ten and its parent company Paramount.</p> <p>Consideration is also being given to media outlets that broadcast live or published in full Ms Higgins statement outside court following the collapse of the first trial based on juror misconduct.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram </em></p>

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Brittany Higgins speaks publicly for first time since dropped charges

<p dir="ltr"><em>Content warning: This article includes mentions of sexual assault.</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Brittany Higgins has spoken publicly for the first time since the charges of sexual assault were dropped against Bruce Lehrmann due to concerns about her mental health.</p> <p dir="ltr">The former Liberal staffer took to social media with her statement about the trial, noting that “the outcome does not affect the truth”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I chose to speak up,” she began. </p> <p dir="ltr">“To speak up against rape. To speak up against injustice. To speak up and share my experiences with others.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I told the truth - no matter how uncomfortable or how unflattering - to the Court. The outcome does not affect the truth. When I did speak up, I never fully understood our asymmetrical criminal justice system.</p> <p dir="ltr">“But I do now.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-f4ee888b-7fff-8b0a-4782-a0187822af74"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Higgins, who testified and was cross-examined during the initial trial while Lehrmann wasn’t, continued to describe the impact of taking sexual assault allegations to court and how alleged offenders aren’t impacted to the same degree.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CluKsquhqme/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CluKsquhqme/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Brittany Higgins (@brittanyhiggins___)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“I was requested to tell the truth under oath over a week on the witness stand and was cross-examined at length,” she continued.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He was afforded the choice of staying silent in court. Head down in a notebook, completely detached.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He never faced one question in court about his story or the criminal charges.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She added that surrendered her phones, passwords, photos and other data to the court, a requirement Lehrmann was not made to comply with.</p> <p dir="ltr">“My life was publicly scrutinised, open for the world to see. His was not,” she wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">Higgins also addressed the scrutiny the media faced for initially referring to the trial as the ‘Higgins trial’, saying that she didn’t blame the media “because to me it is very obvious who is on trial”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He hasn’t had to be publicly accountable - for his actions of any part of his story,” she continued.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is the reality of how complainants in sexual assault cases are treated.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Their lives are torn apart, their families and friends called to the witness stand and the accused has the legal right to say absolutely nothing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Like all women who experience sexual violence, I knew the odds were stacked against me from the outset.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She went on to address the imbalance in Australia’s legal system, citing statistics that said only 16 percent of sexual offences reported to police in the ACT during 2020 led to a charge, with only half of that 16 percent resulting in a conviction.</p> <p dir="ltr">“That is to our national shame,” she wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I want to thank the other women who came forward and shared their own experiences.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I believe you. You were with me every day I walked into that courtroom and faced him.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Higgins also went on to thank those who attended the March 4 Justice rallies,  journalists “who helped amplify the issue” and mental health workers, “without whom, I literally would not be here today”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Her statement comes a week after the charges against Lehrmann were dropped and a retrial set for next year was scrapped.</p> <p dir="ltr">The initial trial, which began in October, ended with no verdict due to juror misconduct.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>If you or someone you know is in need of support as a result of sexual assault or child contact LifeLine on 13 11 14 for immediate support or call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-75f0cc4d-7fff-afda-71fc-de5158669136"></span></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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“This brings this prosecution to an end”: Charges dropped against Bruce Lehrmann

<p dir="ltr">The trial of Bruce Lehrmann over allegations he raped Brittany Higgins has come to an end, after new evidence was presented showing that the “ongoing trauma” of the trial was an unacceptable risk to Ms Higgins.</p> <p dir="ltr">Shane Drumgold, the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said on Friday that he had reviewed new medical evidence and made the “difficult decision” to file a notice declining a retrial.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I have recently received compelling evidence from two independent medical experts, that the ongoing trauma associated with this prosecution presents an unacceptable and significant risk to the life of the complainant,’’ he said during a press conference.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The evidence makes it clear this is not limited to the harm of giving evidence in the witness box, rather applies whether or not the complainant is required to re-enter the witness box in the retrial.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Whilst the pursuit of justice is essential for my office and the community, the safety of a complainant in a sexual assault matter, must be paramount.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In light of the compelling independent medical opinions, and balancing all factors, I have made the difficult decision that it is no longer in the public interest to pursue a prosecution at the risk of the complainant’s life.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This has left me no other options but to file a notice declining to proceed with the retrial of prosecution, which I have done this morning.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This brings this prosecution to an end.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Drumgold said that the investigation and trial has resulted in “a level of personal attack” against Ms Higgins that he hadn’t seen in his 20-year career.</p> <p dir="ltr">“She has done so with bravery, grace and dignity, and it is my hope that this now stop; that Miss Higgins now be allowed to heal,” he continued.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Drumgold noted that DPP policy states that the decision to prosecute should be made “after due consideration”, shouldn’t be a light or automatic process, and that it can be understood as occurring over two stages.</p> <p dir="ltr">“First, does the evidence offer reasonable prospects of conviction?” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If so, is it in the public interest to proceed with a prosecution?</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is a view I still hold today.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The first trial <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/stunning-developments-in-rape-trial-of-bruce-lehrmann">ended in late October</a>, with the jury being dismissed and no verdict given after a juror brought research material into the courtroom.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lehrmann had pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent, with his lawyers telling the court that no sexual activity took place.</p> <p dir="ltr">The second trial was due to commence on February 20, 2023.</p> <p dir="ltr">The decision to drop charges against Lehrmann comes after it was revealed that Mr Drumgold was seeking “urgent” legal changes to ensure that Ms Higgins’ evidence could be played in court during a retrial to avoid her taking the witness stand again.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under current legislation, there was uncertainty as to whether a recording of Ms Higgins’ cross-examination could be used in the retrial.</p> <p dir="ltr">The proposed changes would allow sexual assault complainents who give evidence in open court - like Ms Higgins did - to have their evidence played to the jury in the same way that it would be if complainants in remote locations are recorded.</p> <p dir="ltr">It comes amid criticism of the criminal justice system and courts over the re-traumatising experience sexual assault survivors undergo while giving evidence.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a study conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology, they noted that giving evidence in court can be traumatic and stressful for a number of reasons.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The need for victims to confront the person alleged to have assaulted them, the difficulties of talking about the circumstances surrounding the assault and the embarrassment of being questioned in public about sexual matters can make committals and trials highly traumatic experiences for victims,” they <a href="https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/rpp068.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In the event that a mistrial occurs or the matter is referred for a further hearing at appeal, the trauma is exacerbated because the complainant is required to go through the entire process again. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Such a prospect may not only discourage sexual assault victims from being willing to give testimony, but may also discourage victims from reporting the sexual assault to police in the first place.”</p> <p dir="ltr">They found that jurors presented with evidence face-to-face, through CCTV footage, or in a pre-recorded video weren’t being affected by the mode of evidence on their perception of the survivor or when making decisions.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-f46bdf13-7fff-1367-57ae-3b1fa4466ea8"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty Images</em></p>

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Can juries still deliver justice in high-profile cases in the age of social media?

<p>The recent <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-was-the-lehrmann-trial-aborted-and-what-happens-next-193382" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sudden end</a> to the Bruce Lehrmann trial last month raises again whether the jury is fit for purpose in a 21st century hyper-connected world.</p> <p>That jury’s service in the Lehrmann case ended peremptorily after it was revealed to the judge that material downloaded from the internet (which was highly relevant to the case and not introduced as evidence) had been found in the jury room. A retrial has been <a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/courts-law/bruce-lehrmann-retrial-confirmed-for-2023-says-act-director-of-public-prosecutions-shane-drumgold/news-story/6012323f3d863985ce5a001f10a3a7eb" target="_blank" rel="noopener">set for late February</a>. Lehrmann had been accused of raping former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins, to which he pleaded not guilty.</p> <p>The costs so far (to both parties and the court) could well exceed a million dollars.</p> <p>With easy access to the internet available to any juror who owns a mobile phone, is it conceivable that all jurors will abide by the strict instructions of a judge admonishing them to pay attention only to the evidence adduced in the trial?</p> <p>Are instructions to jurors to avoid media sources meaningless given the accessibility of the internet?</p> <p>These aren’t new questions. In 2005, <a href="https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/researchpapers/Documents/trial-by-jury-recent-developments/jury%20and%20index.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a report</a> prepared for the NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service observed:</p> <blockquote> <p>Prominent cases in recent years […] have illustrated the legal problems that can occur when jurors, despite judicial instructions to confine their deliberations to the evidence before them, undertake their own research, discuss the case with non-jurors, or visit a place connected with the offence. The increasing amount of legal information available on the internet is a cause for particular concern. The Jury Amendment Act 2004 […] prohibits jurors from making inquiries about the accused or issues in the trial, except in the proper exercise of juror functions.</p> </blockquote> <p>But for all the warnings and threats of consequences, a juror may still stray down <a href="http://www.lawfoundation.net.au/ljf/site/templates/grants/$file/UNSW_Jury_Study_Hunter_2013.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the path of private sleuth</a>. It’s easy to do and Australians have a voracious appetite for social media. In 2018 <a href="https://www.yellow.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Yellow-Social-Media-Report-2018-Consumer.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a survey reported</a> 62% of Australian adults use social media sites every day, and 34% use them more than five times a day.</p> <p>This becomes particularly problematic when the eyes of the world are fixed on cases such as these.</p> <p>The sudden and unexpected end to the Lehrmann trial prompts a more fundamental question: should we continue to persist with juries at all?</p> <h2>Two sides</h2> <p>There are two sides to the argument regarding retention of the jury.</p> <p>On the one hand, juries have stood the test of time. The idea of being tried by one’s peers was entrenched by the <a href="https://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-and-jury-trial" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Magna Carta of 1215</a>. Even though the jury as we know it didn’t crystallise until about 350 years ago and has been through a number of permutations since then, there would be few people who could argue against its symbolic legitimacy given its staying power.</p> <p>Over that time, juries have been given sustained examination in Australia by the <a href="https://www.lawreform.justice.nsw.gov.au/Documents/Publications/Reports/Report-48.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New South Wales Law Reform Commission</a>, the Queensland <a href="https://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/Docs/Publications/CJC/The-jury-system-in-criminal-trials-in-qld-Issues-paper-1991.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Criminal Justice Commission</a>, the <a href="https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/lawrefrom/jury_service/report_volume_1.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Victorian Law Reform Committee</a>, and most recently by academics at <a href="https://cdn.csu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/3452182/Jury-Reasoning-v2-NEW-BRANDING.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Charles Sturt University</a>, to name a few. Juries have survived largely intact throughout this exercise.</p> <p>On the other hand, there are doubts about their efficiency. Juries took a hit after the High Court decision <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-jury-may-be-out-on-the-jury-system-after-george-pells-successful-appeal-135814" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in the George Pell appeal</a> where the judges, in allowing the appeal, ruled that no jury, properly instructed, could have reached a guilty verdict in his trial.</p> <p>What’s more, it’s overstated to say that trial by jury is a fundamental bulwark of fairness in the criminal justice system. Indeed, 92% of criminal matters in Australia are dealt with in the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/criminal-courts-australia/latest-release" target="_blank" rel="noopener">magistrates courts</a>, where there are no juries. Of the remaining 8% referred to the “superior” criminal courts (Supreme, District and County), more and more defendants are choosing “judge alone” trials (in jurisdictions where that option is available). For example, in NSW, <a href="https://theconversation.com/jury-is-out-why-shifting-to-judge-alone-trials-is-a-flawed-approach-to-criminal-justice-137397" target="_blank" rel="noopener">up to a quarter of accused persons</a> are now electing to be tried without a jury.</p> <p>Other studies have highlighted how jurors <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0194659507000470" target="_blank" rel="noopener">overrate DNA evidence</a> despite judicial directions, which may lead to <a href="https://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws:10533" target="_blank" rel="noopener">far more jury convictions</a> than are warranted, and how jurors’ perceptions of guilt and innocence can be affected by the <a href="https://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws:44141" target="_blank" rel="noopener">positioning of defendants</a> in the courtroom. <a href="https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:331175" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Another study</a> found that although jurors report they understand directions, they often don’t appear to use those directions in arriving at a decision.</p> <p>And finally, as the Lehrmann trial has illustrated, it’s not unusual for jurors to ignore or misunderstand the instructions that have been given to them.</p> <p>But, what about the ability of juries to apply some of their own “commonsense” justice? True, there are examples of juries wielding their own commonsense stick. For example, a verdict that <a href="https://www.coursehero.com/file/p7dtm6g/R-v-R-1981-28-SASR-321-South-Australian-Supreme-Court-King-CJ-Jacobs-Zelling-JJ/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">occurred in 1981</a> when a South Australian jury returned a verdict of not guilty for a woman who had been charged with the murder of her husband. The jury decided that the defence of provocation (only available to reduce murder to manslaughter) exonerated her, figuring that, in the time before the victim’s death, his severe and persistent abuse of his family had pushed his wife to breaking point.</p> <p>There is, however, a contrary argument. Research has revealed that “commonsense” <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/lapo.12181" target="_blank" rel="noopener">comes with coded biases</a>, such that telling jurors to use their commonsense is futile, given it’s difficult (if not impossible) to erode such biases.</p> <h2>Are there other options?</h2> <p>One alternative to the jury is mixed judiciaries used in some European countries, where one may find a panel of judges or <a href="https://academic.oup.com/book/32863/chapter/275978049?login=true" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a combination of judges and lay people</a>. But the common law world has never looked like following that lead.</p> <p>Another alternative in use in Australia is a judge alone trial, although <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/RP9697/97rp11" target="_blank" rel="noopener">that option</a> isn’t always available, and by virtue of <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/RP9697/97rp11" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Section 80 of the Constitution</a> isn’t available in a trial of a serious federal offence. Indeed, there’s no guarantee that judges themselves are immune from social media influences. While there’s a widespread belief that judges are more capable than juries of putting <a href="https://chelmsfordlegal.com.au/trial-by-judge-alone-is-it-possible-and-if-so-is-it-preferable/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to one side their own prejudices</a>, the rules regarding sub judice contempt (discussing publicly a matter that is before a court in a manner that may influence the outcome) applies equally to judge alone and jury trials.</p> <p>Adding to the policy confusion, there’s some evidence trials by judge alone do make a difference to the outcome. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics <a href="https://stacklaw.com.au/news/criminal-law/trial-by-jury-vs-trial-by-judge-alone-whats-the-difference/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">examined NSW trials between 1993 and 2011</a> and found defendants were acquitted 55.4% of the time in a judge alone trial, compared to 29% in a jury trial.</p> <p>Another reform idea is to allow jurors to <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_citation&amp;hl=en&amp;user=dMsPrLwAAAAJ&amp;citation_for_view=dMsPrLwAAAAJ:7PzlFSSx8tAC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">raise questions with the judge</a> during breaks in the trial, including asking about things they may have “accidentally” come across on social media. A judge could send the jury out while the lawyers present to the judge how they think the questions should be handled and answered. However, this idea has yet to excite policymakers.</p> <p>In the end, we must accept there are flaws in jury process. But finding acceptable alternatives has proved difficult, hence the reluctance of governments to abandon the status quo. Judges will continue to warn against private sleuthing, but one suspects that it will, from time to time, continue regardless.</p> <p>One can only hope the disaster that befell the Lehrmann trial sends a salutary lesson to prospective jurors henceforth: listen to what the judge tells you, and during the course of the trial leave your favourite search engine alone.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-juries-still-deliver-justice-in-high-profile-cases-in-the-age-of-social-media-193843" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</strong></p> <p><em>Image: ABC</em></p>

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Outrage after Brittany Higgins listed on Hot 100 in popular men’s magazine

<p dir="ltr">A popular men’s magazine is under fire for including rape victim Brittany Higgins in its annual Hot 100 women list. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Maxim Australia</em> released a list of its Hot 100 women for its 11th annual edition on Wednesday - day five of deliberations in the trial of Ms Higgins’ accused rapist, Bruce Lehrmann. </p> <p dir="ltr">The case however was <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/news/news/stunning-developments-in-rape-trial-of-bruce-lehrmann" target="_blank" rel="noopener">thrown out of court</a> the following day after a juror accessed information that was not presented in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the same time, <em>Maxim</em> was being rolled out for sale on newsagency shelves across the country.  </p> <p dir="ltr">On the list included some of Australia’s favourite personalities including, winner Margot Robbie, followed by Sam Kerr, Ash Barty, Emma McKeon, Grace Tame, Sarah Snook, Ariarne Titmus, Duckie Thot, Delta Goodrem and Abbie Chatfield. </p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Higgins was placed 12th on the list and despite all the attention on the trial, Maxim defended its decision including her. </p> <p dir="ltr">They said Ms Higgins was a worthy candidate and the rape trial which gained national traction made her influential. </p> <p dir="ltr">Gender equality advocate Professor Catharine Lumby, chair of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney said having Ms Higgins’ name on the list was offensive.</p> <p dir="ltr">“To me, [Ms Higgins inclusion] is offensive because that list is to be read as a list of who is hot and attractive,” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“If it was a list of 100 people who have influenced Australia, I would have no issue with it. </p> <p dir="ltr">“A magazine such as Maxim has to be far more cautious about who they are including in that sort of list.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The rape trial was thrown out on October 27 after a juror accessed an academic paper about false rape accusations. </p> <p dir="ltr">Chief Justice Lucy McCallum notified the court as soon as she found out that a juror had accessed evidence that was not presented in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">All 12 jurors were called into the ACT Supreme Court and questioned after an academic paper that reported on how often false rape accusations were made was found.</p> <p dir="ltr">"During routine tidying of the jury room by three sheriff's officers after the conclusion of proceedings yesterday, one of the officers accidentally bumped one of the juror's document holders onto the floor," she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">She said she had no other choice but to dismiss the jurors despite warning them “at least 17 times” to only discuss the points said in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">"You must not try to undertake your own research," she said she told them.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It's going to lead to more crime": Controversial new law passes</p> <p dir="ltr">"You must rely exclusively on the evidence you hear in this courtroom.</p> <p dir="ltr">"If you are learning something about this trial, and I'm not there, then you should not be doing it."</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Lehmann maintains his innocence and is currently on bail. He will face a retrial on February 20, 2023.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Instagram/Nine</em></p>

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Brittany Higgins’ comments reported to police after trial thrown out

<p dir="ltr">The comments Brittany Higgins made outside of court after the case was thrown out have been referred to the police by Bruce Lehmann’s lawyers. </p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Lehmann has pleaded not guilty of raping former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins in Parliament House after a night out drinking in March 2019. </p> <p dir="ltr">On October 27, the case was thrown out of court after it was found that a juror accessed evidence that was not presented in court. </p> <p dir="ltr">An emotional Ms Higgins spoke to the media for three minutes after Chief Justice Lucy McCallum’s decision</p> <p dir="ltr">“I told the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or unflattering to the court,” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I was required to tell the truth under oath for over a week in the witness stand, I was cross-examined at length.”</p> <p dir="ltr">This was enough for Mr Lehmann’s lawyers to report Ms Higgins’ comments to the police stating "the complainant proceeded to give what appears to have been a pre-prepared speech to the media outside the court".</p> <p dir="ltr">"We have brought these comments to the attention of the Court and the Australian Federal Police, and it is not appropriate for Mr Lehrmann or his lawyers to make any comments as to whether the complainant's statements might amount to a contempt or offences against the ACT Criminal Code," a statement from lawyer Steven Whybrow read.</p> <p dir="ltr">Chief Justice Lucy McCallum notified the court as soon as she found out that a juror had accessed evidence that was not presented in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">All 12 jurors were called into the ACT Supreme Court and questioned after an academic paper that reported on how often false rape accusations were made was found.</p> <p dir="ltr">"During routine tidying of the jury room by three sheriff's officers after the conclusion of proceedings yesterday, one of the officers accidentally bumped one of the juror's document holders onto the floor," she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">She said she had no other choice but to dismiss the jurors despite warning them “at least 17 times” to only discuss the points said in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">"You must not try to undertake your own research," she said she told them.</p> <p dir="ltr">"You must rely exclusively on the evidence you hear in this courtroom.</p> <p dir="ltr">"If you are learning something about this trial, and I'm not there, then you should not be doing it."</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite dismissing the jurors, Justice McCallum thanked them and told them that their time was not wasted.</p> <p dir="ltr">"This may come as a frustration to you after the hard work you all put in, and I want to convey my extreme gratitude," she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The juror who accessed the academic papers will not face repercussions for their misconduct.</p> <p dir="ltr">A retrial will be held on February 20, 2023 with Mr Lehmann released on bail. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Nine News</em></p>

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Stunning developments in rape trial of Bruce Lehrmann

<p dir="ltr">The jury in the rape trial of Bruce Lehrmann has been dismissed with no verdict after a juror accessed material that was not admitted in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty of raping former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins in Parliament House after a night out drinking in March 2019.</p> <p dir="ltr">The trial ran for 12 days with 29 witnesses taking the stand before the jury was asked to deliberate on the evidence.</p> <p dir="ltr">A few days after the trial ended, the jurors could not reach a verdict but were urged by the judge to go back and come to a conclusion.</p> <p dir="ltr">Chief Justice Lucy McCallum then notified the court on October 27 that a juror had accessed evidence that was not presented in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">All 12 jurors were called into the ACT Supreme Court and questioned after an academic paper that reported on how often false rape accusations were made was found.</p> <p dir="ltr">"During routine tidying of the jury room by three sheriff's officers after the conclusion of proceedings yesterday, one of the officers accidentally bumped one of the juror's document holders onto the floor," she said, ABC reported.</p> <p dir="ltr">She said she had no other choice but to dismiss the jurors despite warning them “at least 17 times” to only discuss the points said in court.</p> <p dir="ltr">"You must not try to undertake your own research," she said she told them.</p> <p dir="ltr">"You must rely exclusively on the evidence you hear in this courtroom.</p> <p dir="ltr">"If you are learning something about this trial, and I'm not there, then you should not be doing it."</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite dismissing the jurors, Justice McCallum thanked them and told them that their time was not wasted.</p> <p dir="ltr">"This may come as a frustration to you after the hard work you all put in, and I want to convey my extreme gratitude," she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I don't want you to leave court thinking this has been a waste of time."</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Lehrmann was granted bail until the new trial which is scheduled for February 20, 2023.</p> <p dir="ltr">Outside the court, an emotional Ms Higgins then delivered a tearful speech in which she said she “chose to speak up” to help others who were in a similar situation.</p> <p dir="ltr">As a result, Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers are now seeking urgent legal advice from police over whether Brittany Higgins' speech outside the ACT Supreme Court could constitute contempt of court.</p> <p>Mr Lehrmann’s defence barrister Steve Whybrow later confirmed In a statement that he had referred the matter to police.</p> <p>“When we left Court this morning, I indicated to the gathered media that given this matter was ongoing and a date of 20 February 2023 had been fixed for any retrial, it would be both inappropriate and irresponsible to make any further comment at this stage,” the statement read.</p> <p>“I understand the complainant and other members of her support team were all seated in Court this morning when the Chief Justice discharged the jury and made strong comments about people making statements or comments that could prejudice a fair trial.</p> <p>“Notwithstanding Her Honour’s admonition, the complainant proceeded to give what appears to have been a pre-prepared speech to the media outside the Court.”</p> <p>“We have brought these comments to the attention of the Court and the Australian Federal Police, and it is not appropriate for Mr Lehrmann or his lawyers to make any comment as to whether the complainant’s statements might amount to a contempt of court offences against the ACT Criminal Code.</p> <p>“I urge all media to show restraint in reporting this matter and in particular in republishing the statements made by the complainant.</p> <p>“Neither Mr Lehrmann nor his lawyers will be making any further comment on this matter at this stage.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: ABC</em></p>

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Lisa Wilkinson’s “rules” during rape trial

<p dir="ltr">Lisa Wilkinson has been given a set of “rules” she is required to adhere to while appearing on <em>The Project</em> during the trial for the alleged rape of former Liberal political staffer Brittany Higgins.</p> <p dir="ltr">The former Liberal staffer’s court case began on October 4 in the ACT Supreme Court in which Bruce Lehrmann is accused of allegedly raping Ms Higgins.</p> <p dir="ltr">He has pleaded not guilty to the charges as the case continues.</p> <p dir="ltr">The trial was delayed following <em>The Project</em> host’s explosive Logies speech in which she spoke about the case that she is due to give evidence at.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the case began, a source has claimed that Wilkinson has been given a set of “rules” she needs to follow as she appears on the Channel 10 news show.</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the rules is that Wilkinson is not allowed to read the news headlines while the trial is going ahead, <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/the-project-issues-rules-for-lisa-wilkinson-ahead-of-rape-trial-court-appearance/news-story/48a2446175310149853e13d87a2d2d1b" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Australian</a> reported.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another rule is that the host will not appear on The Project on the days that she is scheduled to give evidence.</p> <p dir="ltr">Her co-hosts Waleed Aly and Carrie Bickmore are also advised not to engage in discussions about the case other than reading headlines.</p> <p dir="ltr">Further to this, Wilkinson will continue to appear on the show on Sunday, Thursday and Friday.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wilkinson has been the topic of conversation during the trial, including her husband Peter Fitzsimmons who offered to represent Ms Higgins.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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List of witnesses revealed as Brittany Higgins trial begins

<p dir="ltr">The witnesses due to testify in Brittany Higgins’ trial against her alleged rapist Bruce Lehrmann have been revealed.</p> <p dir="ltr">The former Liberal staffer’s court case began on October 4 in the ACT Supreme Court where a recording of Higgins’ police interview from February 2021 recounting the alleged rape played. </p> <p dir="ltr">Bruce Lehrmann who was also a Liberal staffer at the time of the alleged offence, has pleaded not guilty, and has said he did not have sex with Higgins. </p> <p dir="ltr">A whopping 52 witnesses will appear during the rape trial, including TV star Lisa Wilkinson, coalition senators Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash. </p> <p dir="ltr">Other big names include John Kunkel, the former chief of staff to Scott Morrison, and News Corp journalist Samantha Maiden.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lehrmann arrived at the court surrounded by a group of lawyers, while Higgins arrived with her supporters including lawyer Leon Zwier and boyfriend David Sharaz.</p> <p dir="ltr">She was also spotted wearing a badge featuring a feminist slogan. </p> <p dir="ltr">Chief Justice Lucy McCallum noted that the criminal trial is one of “cause celebre” due to its high-profile nature. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It is a fundamental requirement that a person accused of a serious criminal offence be tried by an impartial jury,” she told the court.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I'm asking you to consider your own state of mind (with) the issues that will arise in this case and honestly consider if you can be impartial … and give a true verdict according to the evidence.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The trial is expected to run for between four and six weeks.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Nine News</em></p>

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Lisa Wilkinson responds to rumours she left The Project

<p dir="ltr">Lisa Wilkinson has responded to rumours that she left Australia for the US following her disastrous Logies speech which saw the Brittany Higgins case delayed. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>The Project</em> co-host had not appeared on the show since mid-June and was not due to reappear up until August, The Australian’s Media Diary reported. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, Wilkinson has revealed she is in America for a series of interviews with musicians and actors. </p> <p dir="ltr">She shared an image on Instagram standing outside Hotel California in Palm Springs putting all rumours to rest. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Plenty of room at the Hotel California! I’m here in the US for some very special @theprojecttv interviews. Can’t wait to share more…,” she captioned the image. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CgJaLGgOJn7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CgJaLGgOJn7/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Lisa Wilkinson (@lisa_wilkinson)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Once her interviews are completed, Wilkinson is then expected to undertake some leave which was reportedly booked before the Logies speech. </p> <p dir="ltr">During her absence, <em>Studio 10</em>’s Sarah Harris, Flash presenter Georgie Tunny and Sydney radio presenter Rachel Corbett will take turns appearing on The Project. </p> <p dir="ltr">Wilkinson had disappeared off screens and was not appearing regularly. </p> <p dir="ltr">Last week, she presented her interview with Michael Klim and before that she appeared in <em>The Today Show’s</em> 40 year celebration on air. </p> <p dir="ltr">“A big piece of my heart with always stay right there with the Today show family and all the years we spent together at breakfast,” she said in the pre-recorded piece as she blows a kiss. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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