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Prosecution closes Lehrmann rape trial

Linda Reynolds sought transcripts from Lehrmann trial

The prosecution case against the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins has closed after an explosive final day of evidence.

Bruce Lehrmann is being tried in the ACT Supreme Court after he pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.

Ms Higgins alleges the assault took place inside the office of former cabinet minister Linda Reynolds, for whom she and Mr Lerhmann worked as staffers.

The court heard Ms Higgins told Senator Reynolds about the alleged rape in the weeks after it happened but she felt pressure not to pursue a police complaint for fear of losing her job.

The 2019 federal election was looming and Ms Higgins said emphasis was placed on the impact her allegation could have on the Liberal Party.

She reopened her police complaint against Mr Lehrmann in 2021, two years after the alleged assault.

On Monday, Senator Reynolds was accused of trying to interfere in the trial by requesting a copy of Ms Higgins’ transcript of evidence and texting suggestions to the defence.

Senator Reynolds said she was not seeking to coach the cross-examination of her former staffer and was “curious” about what had been said in court.

Advised by her lawyer that it was “inappropriate” to access a transcript, Senator Reynolds did not receive one.

Prosecutor Shane Drumgold suggested Senator Reynolds was politically invested in the case.

He put to Senator Reynolds that if she was motivated enough to attempt to interfere when there was not an election on the horizon, her dominant concern when Ms Higgins first raised the complaint in 2019 would have been the impending election.

“Absolutely not. I categorically and utterly reject that assertion,” Senator Reynolds said.

The senator also denied knowing details of Ms Higgins’ allegation, saying she only knew about the security breach resulting from the two staffers accessing the ministerial suite after hours.

Ms Higgins has previously told the court she had conversations with Senator Reynolds and later Senator Michaelia Cash about her alleged rape.

Senator Cash also denied knowing about the allegation until two years later when media reports surfaced.

“The first time I ever heard of the word ‘rape’ was in response to questions from the journalist … on or about the 12th of February 2021,” she said.

The prosecution has no more witnesses to call and is expected to start closing arguments on Tuesday.

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-AAP

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