What we learned on the last day of Brittany Higgins' cross examination.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

After more than four days in the witness box, Tuesday was Brittany Higgins' final day on the stand in Federal Court.

Higgins was testifying in a defamation case brought by Bruce Lehrmann, who is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson. Lehrmann is suing based on the February 2021 interview on The Project in which Higgins alleged she was sexually assaulted inside Parliament House while she worked there.

Higgins alleges Lehrmann sexually assaulted her in the office of then Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds in the early hours of Saturday March 23, 2019. Lehrmann has always strenuously denied this.

Following days of testimony from Lehrmann, Higgins was then put on the stand. Her final day in the witness box though was particularly revelatory.

Higgins told the Federal Court she volunteered to give evidence in any defamation case brought by Lehrmann.

Higgins said she agreed to take part in any future defamation case levelled by Lehrmann. Higgins was asked by Lehrmann's barrister why she posted on social media about defending any defamation cases.

The specific reason she provided in court was in relation to money, saying she didn't want Lehrmann to become "a millionaire" as a result of lawsuit. 

Higgins' social media post was made six days after it was announced charges against Lehrmann had been dropped due to fears for Higgins' mental health. 

"I was tweeting that from a hospital, but that's why I have a legal minder nowadays, so I can't do anything dumb, but yes. Even though I was in hospital, the decision to go ahead [with dropping the charges] wasn't mine to make. I was willing to go through the criminal case again. It was only advice by doctors and lawyers that I couldn't. So I had no issues," she said in court. 


"I put myself through the criminal court once, I was gonna keep going... I, of course, put my hand up and said 'please put me back in', and here I am."

Higgins confirmed how much money she received from the Commonwealth in her settled civil suit.

Higgins said during her evidence that she had received approximately $2.3 million after settling her civil suit against the Commonwealth, as part of a personal injury claim.

This sum she officially received was $1.9 million, as taxes and legal fees were subtracted. 

"Yes, I received money from the Commonwealth. They came to an agreement that a failure of a duty of care was made and they did pay me," Higgins said.

"I was never focused on that fee. It was only what I received that I cared about."

It is the first time the value of the compensation payout has been publicly revealed.

Higgins admitted to deleting a photo on her phone before handing it over to police, re the investigation.

Lehrmann's barrister claimed Higgins not only erased this photo, but also had done more, pointing to a number of messages later found to be missing from her phone.

Higgins confirmed she had deleted "one particular photo" on her phone before handing it over to police who were investigating the alleged sexual assault. She says this photo showed her wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat that "someone put … on my head" at a party.

The reason for deleting the image was that Higgins said she felt "ashamed" of it. 


Higgins denied she had deliberately deleted potentially relevant messages with a range of other people before giving her phone to police, saying they had been lost when she changed devices over the years or moved to a different iCloud account. 

Lehrmann's rent costs, being paid for by Seven Network, were revealed.

Court documents uploaded on Tuesday, Higgins' final day on the stand, revealed how much Channel Seven has paid for Lehrmann's rent.

Seven agreed to pay Lehrmann's rent for 12 months in return for exclusive access to him from mid-2023 to mid-2024. One such example was the Spotlight interview with Seven in June this year.

An invoice uploaded shows the fortnightly rent cost $4,000 for a period in June. Over 12 months, the cost would total more than $100,000.

Lehrmann's text messages to his then-girlfriend were published by the Federal Court.

Also published by the Federal Court were text messages between Lehrmann and a former girlfriend.

The texts show that Lehrmann's then-girlfriend ended the relationship in the days after Higgins went public with her sexual assault allegation.

"I don't know if I can continue our relationship," she texted Lehrmann.

"Right," Lehrmann responded. "So ur ditching me?"

He also asks her if "something happened".

"I know something happened. Not talking to me all day now this," he said.

"Nothing happened," she replied. "Mum told me another girl has come out and claimed rape. I haven't read the news. So it was a lot to handle. And I didn't know how to process."


"That was 2 days ago and was debunked," Lehrmann said.

Now that Higgins' cross-examination is complete, and the court has already heard Lehrmann's evidence, the trial is expected to continue for weeks to come. The court will hear from more than 20 supporting witnesses. 

A former defence department media adviser is giving evidence today, saying she saw Lehrmann kiss Higgins at a nightclub hours before Higgins alleges he sexually assaulted her in Parliament House. 

A second staffer present at the venue on the night in question, Austin Wenke, will be providing evidence too, as well as other additional staffers and Higgins' housemate at the time. 

The court heard last week that Lisa Wilkinson is expected to be called as a witness, but this may not occur until the latter stages of the trial. The judge foreshadowed that the trial may be extended past its original 14 December end date, possibly up to 18 December. 

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

With AAP.

Feature Image: AAP.