Days after Bruce Lehrmann allegedly raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House, he was told to pack up his things and left, ignoring a request from his then boss for one final meeting.
Lehrmann denies sexually assaulting Higgins in the office of then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds early on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
On March 25, he was called into the office of acting chief-of-staff Fiona Brown regarding a “security incident” involving himself and Higgins attending after hours while inebriated over the weekend.
On Monday, at his defamation trial against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson, Lehrmann said he had dropped his parliamentary pass off at security after being told to pack up his things.
He did this despite Brown saying she wanted to see him one last time before escorting him out of the building, the Federal Court was told.
The law student denied propositions by Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC that he had left Parliament House without seeing Brown because he “feared” she had learned he had sexually assaulted Higgins.
“That’s ridiculous,” Lehrmann said.
He denied further suggestions from Collins that he had declined a further meeting with Brown by saying he wasn’t in the “right headspace” because Higgins’ alleged sexual assault meant his world was going to come “crumbling down” around him.
Lehrmann is suing Ten and Wilkinson over a February 2021 report on The Project in which Higgins was interviewed about the alleged rape.
Lehrmann denies anything happened on the night.
He previously told the court he was in the office about 2am writing in Question Time folders and jotting down notes about what he had learned about French submarine contracts during discussions while out drinking earlier that night.
He has admitted lying to Brown by saying he was there after hours to drink whisky. He acknowledged he had not explained his attendance in a response to Reynolds, who asked why he should not be terminated for misconduct.
While admitting he had not contacted Higgins to see if she had faced similar disciplinary action or had been terminated, Lehrmann denied Collins’ accusations that this was because of the alleged sexual assault.
Lehrmann has settled separate defamation proceedings against News.com.au and the ABC over their reports about Higgins’ allegations.
The criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court over Higgins’ alleged rape was derailed by juror misconduct and prosecutors did not seek a second trial because of concerns over her mental health.
A landmark report into the ACT legal system and the Higgins case was released in August, making damning findings against now ex-director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold over his conduct during the case.
Lehrmann has separately been accused of raping another woman twice in Toowoomba in October 2021.
He has yet to enter a plea in that case, but his lawyers have indicated that he denies the charges.
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