Leaked texts from Brittany Higgins’ partner David Shiraz reveal he was basking in the fame and power the couple were ‘exuding’ after her rape allegations were made public.
Ms Higgins’ claims she was sexually assaulted by Bruce Lehrmann in a ministerial office in March 2019, while they were both working as Liberal staffers, were publicly aired in her interview with Lisa Wilkinson on The Project, February 15, 2021.
Mr Lehrmann strenuously denies the allegations and pleaded not guilty during his aborted criminal October trial.
Following the bombshell revelations, Mr Shiraz sent Ms Higgins repeated texts eagerly asking if she noticed her growing public profile.
‘Are you getting spotted? Are people noticing you? Anyone recognise you?’ he texted.
Then, roughly one month after the interview broadcast on Channel 10 Mr Sharaz sent texts to Ms Higgins that read: ‘Don’t ditch me now you’re famous’ and ‘We exude power’.
More leaked emails between Brittany Higgins (pictured left) and her partner David Shiraz (pictured right) have revealed the couple were basking in the fame and power the couple were ‘exuding’ after her rape allegations were made public
Texts sent to Ms Higgins by Mr Shiraz eagerly asked her if she noticed her growing public profile
Around this time Mr Sharaz also sent Ms Higgins messages boasting of invites they received from former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, who were Labor and Coalition leaders respectively.
Of being invited to tea at Dr Rudd’s Brisbane apartment Mr Shiraz gloated: ‘It’s not exactly a shack. A $10m penthouse haha’.
The stream of leaked texts has become a political crisis for the Albanese government.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher all face accusations they colluded with Mr Sharaz, Wilkinson and Ms Higgins to ‘weaponise’ the rape allegations and damage the then Morrison Government.
Senator Gallagher has gone to ground after the texts suggested she misled Parliament about whether she had been tipped off about the case before it featured in the media.
Former defence minister Linda Reynolds, whose office the incident was alleged to have occurred in during the early hours of March 23, 2019, made the accusation during a Senate hearing on June 2021.
Another text sent a little over a month after Ms Higgins went public with her rape allegations gloated about the couple’s status among the nation’s political movers and shakers
Mr Sharaz was also very pleased to be invited to a Brisbane tea hosted by former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd
‘No-one had any knowledge. How dare you!’ It’s all about protecting yourself,’ was Senator Gallagher’s response.
However, Mr Sharaz’s leaked text messages from February 11, 2021, four days before Ms Higgins’ interview broadcast, state Senator Gallagher was fully aware of the allegations and was ‘really invested’ in Ms Higgins’ story.
In the months following the interview Mr Sharaz and Ms Higgins sent repeated texts about the senior Labor politicians they were recruiting to press their claims, including then opposition leader Mr Albanese.
On April 16, 2021 Mr Sharaz texted Ms Higgins saying: ‘So Albo gave me his number – he just came in to do the breakfast show – and says if you meet with Scomo to let him know and he’ll fly to Canberra to be there if you want to meet with him too.’
Ms Higgins replied: ‘For sure. I have no qualms meeting with Albo.’
Just six days later, Mr Sharaz wrote: ‘Friday 9am with Albo locked in at CPO. Details to come… Tanya [Plibersek] too.’
When asked whether Ms Higgins approached him to help her cause, Mr Albanese on Tuesday simply said ‘no’.
Ms Plibersek has also rejected the claims.
It is understood Ms Higgins was furious with the then Prime Minister Mr Morrison after hearing whispers his office had been ‘backgrounding’ against her.
Four days before Ms Higgins’ allegations went public Mr Sharaz wrote of how Senator Gallagher (pictured) was ‘really invested’ in the saga
‘He’s about to be f***ed over. Just wait. We’ve got him,’ she wrote to Mr Sharaz on March 26, 2021.
Mr Sharaz also made a made critical comments about Mr Morrison.
‘I still hate the c…’ he wrote.
On Thursday Opposition leader Peter Dutton demanded Mr Albanese ‘be honest’ over his dealings with Ms Higgins and Mr Sharaz.
‘The Prime Minister obviously has to front up and provide a true factual explanation of what’s going on here because there are different accounts,’ Mr Dutton told 2GB host Ray Hadley.
‘Until we know the facts, we won’t know the answers to all the questions that need to be answered and the Prime Minister and others given different statements at different points.
‘It seems that some of that may be conflicting now. So I think the prime minister just needs to be honest.’
Senator Reynolds (pictured with Scott Morrison in 2019) said she plans to flag the settlement to the new federal anti-corruption commission, saying the speed of the process raises concerns about ‘fairness’.
Hadley responded: ‘Either David Sharaz is lying or exaggerating, or the PM is lying and so is Katy Gallagher … these are the only two options.’
Addressing the taxpayer-funded payout awarded to Ms Higgins after just one day of mediation talks in December Mr Hadley said: ‘It never happens in a matter of hours before a settlement can be reached and both parties are happy.’
‘It’s clear some people haven’t been telling the truth,’ Mr Dutton replied.
Ms Higgins sued the Commonwealth for compensation over her allegations and how they were handled for the reported sum of $3million.
December’s settlement was designated a confidential but in February Ms Higgins denied that she received $3million.
Senator Reynolds on Wednesday said she plans to flag the settlement for investigation by the new federal anti-corruption saying the speed of the process raises concerns about ‘fairness’.
The Senator said the speed of the decision raises ‘serious questions about how this significant sum of public money was determined and allocated’.
Senator Reynolds, who was boss to both Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins boss at the time of the alleged rape, claimed Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus forbade her to make public comment on the case or attend mediation sessions.
‘I was initially granted legal assistance to defend the civil claim made by Ms Higgins against me,’ she said in a statement.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured) has fiercely denied colluding with Ms Higgins while in Opposition to ‘weaponise’ the accusations and damage Scott Morrison’s Coalition government
‘On 6 December 2022, I was advised that the Commonwealth has a discretion to control the conduct of my defence and that the Attorney-General had decided to exercise that discretion.
‘The result of this was that the Attorney-General did not want me to attend the mediation or make any public comments about the mediation or the civil claim made by Ms Higgins.’
Reynolds claimed that Mr Dreyfus, Senator Gallagher, and Mr Albanese, had a ‘potential conflict of interest’ based on their previous public statements about the matter.
On Thursday Mr Albanese hit back at the suggestions Senator Gallagher has acted in any way inappropriately over the matter while again denying any impropriety on his part.
‘I have absolute confidence in Senator Gallagher,’ he said.
‘I had not met Brittany Higgins until I met her publicly – publicly – on the same day that she met Scott Morrison.’
Mr Albanese refused to be drawn into questions about the case being referred to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, arguing as it was an independent body it would inappropriate for him to comment.
As reporters kept firing more questions about Ms Higgins the prime minister cut the press conference short, which was intended to focus on a new airport for western Sydney, and walked out.
It is not known who is leaking the texts between Mr Shiraz and Ms Higgins, with audio files of meeting they held with Channel 10 reporters and producers also being leaked.
Sources have told media outlets the material was included in evidence provided to defence lawyers, the ACT office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as investigating police officers to prepare for Mr Lehrmann’s criminal case.
The criminal trial last held in the ACT last October was abandoned after a jury member brought unauthorised material to the jury room.
A second trial was set to go ahead in February but the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold discontinued the matter citing the ‘significant and unacceptable’ risk to Ms Higgins’ mental health.
The handling of the case by the Australian Federal Police and Department of Public Prosecutions in now under review by an independent inquiry.