Brittany Higgins is accused of failing to return Linda Reynolds’ black and white Carla Zampatti jacket, which she borrowed from the minister’s wardrobe the morning after she was allegedly assaulted.
Ms Higgins alleged her former colleague Bruce Lehrmann raped her in Senator Reynolds’ office in Parliament House in the early hours of March 23, 2019. Mr Lehrmann strongly denies the allegation.
Security footage played before a court showed Ms Higgins entering the office in a white dress at about 1am that morning. It also showed her leaving at about 10am the following morning – wearing the designer jacket.
Radio host Ben Fordham revealed on Wednesday morning that Senator Reynolds claims she never got the jacket back.
Carla Zampatti jackets are normally priced at more than $1000.
The 2GB host also said Senator Reynolds plans to refer Ms Higgins’ compensation payout, worth up to $3million, to a new federal anti-corruption body – and asked questions about why the hefty claim was granted when it was never filed in court.
The new developments come as Finance Minister Katy Gallagher doubled down on her claims that she had ‘no role in’ Ms Higgins’ compensation package – even though it was her Finance Department which granted the payment.
Brittany Higgins is pictured leaving Parliament House at about 10am on March 23, 2019 – wearing Senator Reynolds’ Carla Zampatti jacket
Linda Reynolds (pictured) reportedly plans to refer Ms Higgins’ compensation claim to a federal anti-corruption body
On Wednesday morning, Fordham addressed the planned referral of the payment to a federal anti-corruption body: ‘In order for this to be investigated by the body, someone will need to refer it.’
‘If no one else does, Linda Reynolds will,’ he told listeners.
Fordham pointed to the fact that the rape trial against Mr Lehrmann in the ACT Supreme Court was aborted by the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, on December 1.
Mr Drumgold said the case couldn’t proceed due to concerns over Ms Higgins’ mental health.
However, hours later, Ms Higgins’ lawyers had reportedly compiled a draft compensation claim against the Commonwealth and two of her former bosses, Senator Reynolds and Senator Michaelia Cash.
Ms Higgins’ intention was to sue for sexual harassment, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, negligence, and victimisation.
The claim was expected to be worth about $3million, which included $2.5million for future economic loss, past economic loss approaching $100,000 and general damages of $100,000.
Brittany Higgins is pictured on the night she entered Parliament House on March 23, 2019. She entered wearing a white dress
Brittany Higgins is pictured with her boyfriend, David Sharaz – who knew Finance minister Katy Gallagher
The settlement was made after just one day of mediation, and the terms were confidential.
Fordham said on Wednesday: ‘The response from Linda Reynolds was, “hang on, why is Brittany all of a sudden ready for mediation when, hours earlier, we were told she was suffering a mental health crisis?”.’
‘Linda Reynolds also wanted to know why there was a plan to push ahead for mediation when no civil claim for compensation had been filed in court.’
Fordham said Senator Reynolds and Senator Cash were not included in the mediation session, even though the claim was partly against them.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Ms Higgins and Senator Reynolds for comment.
Earlier on Wednesday, Senator Katy Gallagher answered questions on Radio National about the compensation claim – and whether she was friends with Ms Higgins’ partner David Sharaz.
Senator Gallagher says she was not involved in Ms Higgins’ compensation claim
The host, Hamish McDonald, said: ‘Your name has been mentioned in several reports in recent days relating to the Brittany Higgins’ allegations in an audio recording her partner David Sharaz said “I’ve got a friend in labor, Katy Gallagher”.’
‘I want to give you the opportunity to respond on the record – are you comfortable with that association and that description?’
Senator Gallagher said: ‘Look, I have nothing further to add to this, Hamish.
‘I’ve been very clear with those that are reporting this story about my responsibilities and how they relate.
‘Particularly, it’s been raised in relation to a settlement or a compensation package in relation to Ms Higgins and that I had absolutely no role in that at all, and I think that’s all I need to say.
McDonald then asked whether she was friends with Mr Sharaz – to which she replied: ‘I knew Mr Sharaz from my previous role – he was a journalist here in Canberra when I was chief minister so I knew him, but I have nothing further to add.’