Brittney Higgins wants to testify at the trial of Bruce Lehrman for alleged sexual assault, in addition to evidence of her allegations to police and a reporter.
At a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, the Director of Public Prosecutions outlined evidence that would include two recordings of Higgins making his complaint to police, a police interview with Lehrman and audio and CCTV recordings from Parliament House.
Lehrman pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former Liberal activist Higgins at Parliament House in Canberra in 2019. The case went to trial for seven weeks till October 4.
Higgins will be absent at a remote location while the main interview is played out in his interview with police as required by law.
Former Liberal activist Bruce Lehrman has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins. Photo: ABC TV
DPP Shane Drumgold revealed on Wednesday Higgins intends to give additional evidence in court, although it is not yet clear whether he intends to do so in person or remotely. He predicted an application would be made for Higgins to have a second support person.
Lehrman’s counsel asked whether the six-hour interview Higgins recorded with The Project and the subsequent one-hour interview would be part of the Crown’s case.
Drumgold replied that he had “no legal basis to run them”, confirming the Crown would not rely on them as “accusatory evidence”, which consisted of a complainant’s statement used to bolster their credibility after an incriminating incident.
Drumgold said the Crown would call evidence of the allegations from a journalist, an apparent reference to Lisa Wilkinson and her initial conversation with Higgins that led to the six-hour meeting and TV interview.
In June, the chief justice, Lucy McCallum, ruled “sadly and grudgingly” to vacate the trial, which began in late June, because of comments Wilkinson made while accepting a logie for his work on the Higgins story. and a subsequent interview with broadcasters Amanda Keller and Brendan Jones.
McCallum noted that Wilkinson was aware when he gave the speech that he would be a witness.
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On Wednesday, McCallum told Lehrman’s team that the jury needed to know if there were any objections to the indictment’s evidence before being empaneled because he “needs to give information to the whole panel, to make sure that no one can be impartial. Empaneled”.
Drumgold also revealed that he would be applying in closed court for the evidence of two people linked to Parliament’s security.
He said the DPP wanted to redact two questions and answers from an interview with Lehrman that were inadmissible because they effectively reversed the onus of proof by asking him “can you explain to me why …”.
The Australian Federal Police is considering whether to claim privilege over those documents, with Lehrman’s legal team saying the case was prepared for investigative purposes, not to provide legal advice.
The matter will be listed again next week.