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Reynolds may call Scott Morrison as witness in Brittany Higgins ‘conspiracy claim’ case

Mediation has failed to resolve senator Linda Reynolds' defamation case against Brittany Higgins.

Mediation has failed to resolve senator Linda Reynolds' defamation case against Brittany Higgins. Photos: AAP

Former prime minister Scott Morrison could appear as a trial witness as a Liberal senator pursues Brittany Higgins over alleged defamatory remarks.

Former defence minister Linda Reynolds is suing Higgins over a series of social media posts she says have damaged her reputation.

Mediation has failed to resolve the high-profile case, which returned to the Western Australian Supreme Court for a directions hearing on Tuesday ahead of a trial in the coming months.

Outside court, Reynolds told media she was there to demonstrate her determination to take the matter to trial and “finally get justice”.

“Not only to clear my name but also to get justice for the many people whose lives have been destroyed,” the senator said.

“It’s absolutely essential that all parties accept Justice Lee’s findings, all of his findings, so that the many people who have been damaged by this whole saga can get justice and to get peace.”

Reynolds said Higgins’ claims of the response to her allegations of rape by another staffer, Bruce Lehrmann, in the senator’s parliamentary office had “taken a huge toll on my mental and my physical health, and that of my family and former staff”.

“These allegations of conspiracy and mistreatment are causing ongoing damage to far too many people and it has to stop,” she said.

“That is why I’m so determined that if we cannot reach settlement we will certainly be going to trial next month.”

Justice Michael Lee’s judgment in Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson found there “was never any political conspiracy and that Ms Higgins was looked after by myself, and particularly by my chief of staff, Fiona Brown”, Reynolds said.

“It is time that those people who have perpetuated that, agree they were wrong and apologise so that we can all move on.”

Reynolds, who will leave parliament at the next federal election, said she had been well supported by her federal Liberal Party colleagues since the allegations surfaced in 2021.

“I’ve been particularly grateful in recent times, for the support from Scott Morrison, and for many other colleagues who will be witnesses in this trial,” she said.

Reynolds’ lawyer Martin Bennett said he had filed 17 witness outlines for the trial, which does not yet have a firm start date. Morrison is among them.

“He’s prepared to give evidence,” Bennett said, adding Morrison would be overseas but could testify remotely.

Bennett said there were five more witness outlines to file and hinted another senior Liberal, Senator Michaelia Cash, could be among them.

Morrison might not be required to take the stand if Higgins agreed with his evidence, Bennett said.

Reynolds was also pursuing Higgins’ husband, David Sharaz, for defamation but he announced in April he would no longer fight the case and consented to judgment.

Reynolds claimed he had also defamed her in a series of social media posts.

Sharaz was ordered to delete three tweets, a Facebook post and an Instagram story from 2022 and 2023.

The damages Sharaz will have to pay following his admission will be decided after Higgins’ defamation trial later in the year.

Lehrmann denies the sexual assault allegation. His trial was aborted because of juror misconduct and Higgins’ mental health was cited as the reason for no retrial.

1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

-AAP

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