Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyer accuses The Project of not checking ‘credibility’ of Brittany Higgins claims | Australia news #Bruce #Lehrmanns #lawyer #accuses #Project #checking #credibility #Brittany #Higgins #claims #Australia #news

The Project producer Angus Llewellyn has been cross-examined in the federal court about whether the program checked the credibility of what Brittany Higgins told them before her interview with Lisa Wilkinson was broadcast on Ten.

Bruce Lehrmann brought the defamation case against Network Ten and Wilkinson over the interview, in which Higgins alleged she was raped by a Liberal staffer in Parliament House in March 2019. Network Ten and Wilkinson are defending the case.

Lehrmann’s barrister, Matthew Richardson SC, put it to Llewellyn that he had failed to “check the credibility” of a photo of the bruise Higgins told him was caused by Lehrmann during the alleged rape. Llewellyn disagreed.

Lehrmann has denied raping Higgins and pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent. His criminal trial was abandoned due to juror misconduct and the second did not proceed due to prosecutors’ fears for Higgins’ mental health.

The defamation trial heard that Higgins suggested in a five-hour pre-interview with the Project that her phone had been hacked by the government because a lot of her messages and photos had disappeared. “I go for stuff-up rather than a conspiracy,” Llewellyn said.

However, a photograph of the bruise had survived and was provided to Llewellyn who used it in the broadcast.

Richardson asked: “Did it occur to you at this point how this photo had somehow survived the complete death of her phone?”

“No, it didn’t occur to me,” Llewellyn said.

Llewellyn agreed he put the bruise photograph to air without seeing any metadata “but the story didn’t hang on whether we could air that the picture of that photo or not”.

“It was a very broad story.”

Llewellyn rejected a suggestion by Richardson that he had “co-ordinated” a visit Higgins made to the police to reinstate her complaint so it was on the record before the Project went to air.

The court heard that Higgins’ fiance David Sharaz sent Llewellyn a message saying Higgins had been to the police and “we got the officer over the line”. “It’s definitely helpful to have confirmation that an investigation of a very serious allegation happened, and it goes to the gravity of a serious allegation that we’re airing,” Llewellyn said.

The court also heard Higgins suggested to Llewellyn that her former boss was involved in a “star chamber” which may have scuttled her chance to secure a good position and salary.

Richardson: “[Higgins] also suggested [Senator Linda Reynolds’ chief-of-staff Fiona] Brown is one of these people on a star chamber who took action to reduce her salary and change her job title because of everything Ms Higgins had done.”

Llewellyn said he didn’t know if that was a credible suggestion by Higgins but it was possibly true.

The court played two secret recordings made by Higgins in the weeks leading up to the broadcast in which she discussed her alleged assault and its aftermath with her then employer Senator Michaelia Cash and her aide Daniel Try.

In the highly-emotional call with Cash and Try Higgins breaks down after detailing the alleged assault and says she felt betrayed by the [Liberal] party and she was the only one “keeping a secret and it was exhausting” and she wanted to quit politics.

Cash can be heard saying: “Britt, we didn’t know anything. You should have told us” and offering to talk “off the record” to a top adviser in Scott Morrison’s office.

Llewellyn told the court that Higgins said Cash was aware of the alleged assault in 2019 and Higgins had accused her of lying in the call.

Cash told the ACT criminal trial she first learned of the alleged rape almost 18 months later, in February 2021, when Higgins told her “out of the blue” prior to resigning.

In the first recording, with Try alone, Higgins said that she was having “random panic attacks” after the alleged rape and asked him to find out the name of a journalist who asked a question about the alleged assault to give her clarity.

Wilkinson’s lawyer Sue Chrysanthou says it is “absolutely clear” from the recording Try knew about the alleged assault.

Higgins said to Try: “I just wanted to touch base with you. I’ve been having PTSD-like panic attacks. I think it started after the Four Corners thing. The Bruce assault thing. It’s just been a thing that’s started to happen.”

Try replied: “Brittany I’m sorry.”

The trial will continue on Wednesday.

#Bruce #Lehrmanns #lawyer #accuses #Project #checking #credibility #Brittany #Higgins #claims #Australia #news

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