Australia

Brittany Higgins says she was ‘terrified’ police passed details of her alleged rape to Peter Dutton

Warning: The story below contains references to allegations of rape.
Brittany Higgins says she was terrified the-then Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was getting updates from police on her alleged rape, as it was considered a politically-sensitive matter.
The former Liberal staffer was being cross-examined on Friday in the Supreme Court in Canberra by defence barrister Steven Whybrow on her reluctance to hand her phone over to police, when she resumed police action two years after her alleged assault.
Her former colleague Bruce Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent in the office of then-Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds, in 2019, where they both worked.
Ms Higgins told the court she was afraid to hand over her phone to police in 2021, because she did not want to lose evidence that she had collected herself, including audio recordings of conversations with government ministers.

“You thought the police might suppress them?” Mr Whybrow asked.

Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann arrives at the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra on Friday. Source: AAP / AAP

“There is a provision that any politically-sensitive matter … gets reported to the Home Affairs minister … Peter Dutton came out and said he had a baseline outline of the complaint … before I gave an evidence-in-chief interview,” Ms Higgins responded, referring to her later formal recorded interviews with police.

Ms Higgins broke down in tears as she continued to say she was seeking legal advice “to know her rights” because she was “terrified.”
Earlier, Ms Higgins told the court she deleted images of her former boss, Senator Reynolds, from her phone in 2021, as she wanted to “scrub out that time of my life”.
“I didn’t want to scroll through my camera roll and see her face,” Ms Higgins told the court.
“She’s not a bad person … it is, what it is,” she continued.

“It wasn’t with the intent of keeping things from police … I didn’t want to look at politicians in my camera roll anymore … I wanted them gone.”

Brittany Higgins rejects suggestions she “lied” about alleged assault

Ms Higgins also firmly rejected suggestions that nothing happened on the night she says she was raped.
She repeatedly told the court such suggestions were not only false, but also insulting.
Under cross-examination she was shown text messages between her and her close friend and ex-boyfriend, Ben Dillaway.
In the messages, days after her alleged rape, she told Mr Dillaway she had been to see a doctor. Ms Higgins told the court on Friday this was a lie she told to placate him.
She told the court she booked numerous doctors’ appointments but was physically unable to get out of bed and go, because she was so traumatised.
“I was placating an ex-boyfriend … but every time I went home, I was collapsing,” she said.
Mr Whybrow pressed Ms Higgins on the text message.
“I’m telling you, you didn’t go to a doctor because you hadn’t had sex with anyone on Friday night, consensual or otherwise,” Mr Whybrow asked.
“That’s not true,” Ms Higgins replied.
“It was to bolster your false suggestion that something had happened with Mr Lehrmann?” Mr Whybrow continued.
“That is not true … nothing you are saying is right … and it is deeply insulting,” Ms Higgins replied.
“The reason you didn’t follow through with any [doctors appointments] is because you didn’t have sexual intercourse with Mr Lehrmann?” Mr Whybrow asked.
Ms Higgins said that comment was “incorrect”.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through a trauma before, confronting it head-on with professionals is a very hard thing to do … I completely reject everything you’re saying,” she said.
“I wasn’t coping with the fact that I had been raped in my workplace. I don’t know what you want from me.”
If allegations set out in this story raise issues for you, or you or someone you know needs support – you can seek 24-hour help by calling 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visiting . In an emergency, call 000.
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