Judge finds Bruce Lehrmann DID rape Brittany Higgins: Here’s what Federal Court Justice ruled happened inside Parliament House – including five key facts

Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins at Parliament House after a long night of drinking, Federal Court Justice Michael Lee has found. 

The former Liberal staffer sued Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson over an episode of The Project broadcast in February 2021.

In the interview, Ms Higgins went public with her allegations for the first time, claiming an unnamed staffer raped her at Parliament House in March 2019.

Mr Lehrmann claimed friends and colleagues were able to identify him as the alleged rapist. He has always maintained his innocence.

But Justice Lee on Monday accepted there was ‘no doubt’ that Mr Lehrmann was identified in the program, but said he accepted the basis of the report.

Federal Court Justice Michael Lee ruled in Network 10’s favour on Monday, determining that report was truthful in its allegations against Mr Lehrmann.

Network 10 had mounted two separate defences of their conduct – a substantial truth defence and qualified privilege. 

Justice Lee first dealt with the qualified privilege defence, determining it ‘fell short of the standard’.

That meant Justice Lee had to accept that Ten’s report was, on the civil standard of  basis of probabilities, factually correct.

After several hours of explanation, Justice Lee came to the conclusion: ‘Mr Lehrmann did rape Brittany Higgins.’

Justice Lee determined that, contrary to Mr Lehrmann’s evidence, sexual intercourse did occur, and that Ms Higgins did not consent.

‘I am convinced that sexual intercourse took place,’ the judge said.

Justice Lee said Mr Lehrmann was ‘on top’ of Ms Higgins and that she was unable to remove herself from the couch.

Mr Lehrmann was also pictured making his way into the Federal Court with his legal team

‘Taking all my reservations as to the credibility and reliability of Ms Higgins into account, her evidence that she was not aware of her surroundings and became aware when he was on top of her struck me forcefully as being credible and having the ring of the truth,’ he said.

‘Ms Higgins did not consent to intercourse when she became aware that Mr Lehrmann was on top of her.’ 

He also offered five ‘key facts’ about the night in question, honing in particularly in the 40 unaccounted for minutes when Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins were alone in the ministerial suite. These were:

  • 1. They were alone in the suite for about 40 minutes
  • 2. Mr Lehrmann did not answer six calls from his girlfriend
  • 3. He left alone at about 2.33am
  • 4. Ms Higgins was impacted by alcohol and fell asleep on the couch in a state of undress
  •  5. There was time for the pair to have ‘coitus’

In his opening remarks, Justice Lee described the case in its entirety as an ‘omnishambles’.  

He was scathing of both Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann, describing them both as unreliable witnesses.

‘To remark that Mr Lehrmann is a poor witness is an understatement. Mr Lehrmann’s attachment to the truth was tenuous,’ he said.

But he put much of Ms Higgins’ inconsistencies down to trauma.

Lisa Wilkinson arrived in court for the verdict this morning wearing all white

Lisa Wilkinson arrived in court for the verdict this morning wearing all white

The month-long trial was heard in December, with judgment initially set down for April 4. 

However, the matter was reopened in early April after Network Ten successfully argued there was new evidence from former Channel Seven employee Taylor Auerbach which was not available during the trial.

Mr Auerbach was on the team at Seven’s Spotlight program when it secured exclusive interviews with Mr Lehrmann, which aired in June and August last year.

It was during those two interviews that classified information from Mr Lehrmann’s criminal trial was broadcast on national television.

The confidential material included Ms Higgins’ private texts and CCTV of Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann entering Parliament House before she was allegedly raped in March 2019.

The leaked information had originally been collected by Australian Federal Police during the investigation into Ms Higgins’ rape allegations and was protected under the Harman undertaking, which meant it could not be used for anything other than court proceedings.

Mr Auerbach, who left his job at Seven last year, reportedly claimed in his affidavit that Mr Lehrmann was the source of the confidential material.

Mr Lehrmann has denied in court that he was the source of the leaked content, but Justice Lee made a ruling that he was not entirely truthful in relation to that matter. 

Mr Auerbach was cross-examined by Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC, during which he claimed Channel Seven covered Mr Lehrmann’s costs for drugs and sex workers.

Mr Lehrmann and Channel Seven have denied those claims.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk