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Judge finds Brittany Higgins was raped inside parliament

Former Australian political staffer Bruce Lehrmann raped his colleague Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House, a judge has found in a defamation case.

Mr Lehrmann has always denied sex took place at all and sued Network 10 over a TV interview with Ms Higgins.

The outlet successfully defended the story as substantially true.

Their report in 2021 shocked the nation and stirred huge public anger over the treatment of women in politics.

In the interview, a teary Ms Higgins detailed how she had woken up on a couch in a minister’s office to find a colleague raping her, after a night out in Canberra in 2019.

However Mr Lehrmann told the Federal Court the pair had shared an Uber back to their office before going their separate ways.

Ruling that Mr Lehrmann had told “deliberate lies”, Justice Michael Lee on Monday said the 28-year-old had been “hellbent” on having sex with Ms Higgins and was “recklessly indifferent” to whether she wanted to as well.

“So intent upon gratification… [Mr Lehrmann] went ahead with sexual intercourse without caring whether or not she consented.”

The standard of proof in defamation cases is lower than in criminal proceedings – a defendant must only prove the claims are more likely to be true, than not.

Mr Lehrmann faced a criminal trial in 2022, but it was aborted due to juror misconduct. A retrial was later abandoned out of concern for Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Referring to the criminal proceedings, Justice Lee concluded his judgement by saying: “Having escaped the lion’s den Mr Lehrmann made the mistake of coming back for his hat.”


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