Brittany Higgins volunteered to be defamation trial witness as she ‘would not let rapist become a millionaire’, court hears | Australia news #Brittany #Higgins #volunteered #defamation #trial #witness #rapist #millionaire #court #hears #Australia #news

Brittany Higgins has told the federal court she volunteered to give evidence in any defamation case brought by her alleged rapist Bruce Lehrmann because she “would not let my rapist become a millionaire for being a rapist”.

On her final day in the witness box Higgins was asked by Lehrmann’s barrister, Steve Whybrow SC, why she posted on social media about defending any defamation cases six days after it was announced charges against Lehrmann had been dropped due to fears about her mental health.

“I wanted him to know that I would not let my rapist become a millionaire for being a rapist, so I said I would do it, and now I’m here,” an emotional Higgins said.

Whybrow said: “The DPP [Shane Drumgold] said that the criminal trial could not proceed because of risk to your health.”

Higgins replied: “Yes.”

Whybrow then said: “Six days later, you were posting to the world that you would be there if [Lehrmann] brought any cases.”

Higgins replied: “I was tweeting that from a hospital, but that’s why I have a legal minder nowadays, so I can’t do anything dumb, but yes.

“Even though I was in hospital, the decision to go ahead wasn’t mine to make. It was the doctor’s and the DPP’s and I wasn’t in well health and so I had to accept that decision.”

Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for defamation. He has denied allegations that he raped Higgins at Parliament House in Canberra and pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual intercourse without consent. His criminal trial was abandoned due to juror misconduct. A second trial did not proceed.

He again denied in the defamation trial that he had raped Higgins and denied having any sexual contact with her at all.

Higgins also revealed she received $1.9m from the commonwealth after putting in a personal injury claim.

“Yes, I received money from the commonwealth,” Higgins said. “They came to an agreement that a failure of a duty of care was made and they did pay me.”

The total amount of the payment was higher – $2.3m – but legal fees and taxes were taken out of that, she said.

“I think it was around $2.3m,” Higgins said. “I think it was the amount and then those taxes and then the lawyer took some, but I’m not sure what that fee was. I was never focused on that fee. It was only what I received that I cared about.”

It is the first time the value of the compensation payout has been revealed. The government had not disclosed the amount on the grounds it was confidential.

Higgins denied earlier this year that the figure was as high as a reported $3m.

Higgins rejected a suggestion from Whybrow that her teary statement to the media outside the criminal trial was “designed to blow up a retrial”.

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Whybrow said: “I suggest to you when you gave that speech, it was designed to blow up a retrial.”

Higgins replied: “No, not at all.”

Whybrow then asked: “You made it clear that you didn’t think that Mr Lehrmann should have a presumption of innocence?”

Higgins said: “I don’t know. I don’t think he had a right to my body, but here we are.”

Higgins revealed she had “no issue” with a second criminal trial but it was ruled out by her medical condition.

“I was willing to go through the criminal case again,” she said. “It was only advice by doctors and lawyers that I couldn’t. So I had no issues. I put myself through the criminal court once, I was gonna keep going. And then when it looked like he wanted to make money off being a rapist I, of course, put my hand up and said ‘please put me back in’, and here I am.”

She also told the court she chose to give evidence in person in the criminal trial so the jury could see her face and she chose to walk through the press pack because she did not want to look “evasive”.

Higgins agreed with Whybrow’s suggestion that she did not think she could win her case beyond reasonable doubt.

“It’s true. I had my doubts about the justice system, but I obviously went ahead,” she said.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org

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