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Bruce Lehrmann ‘more likely than not’ raped Brittany Higgins, Fed Court judge finds

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A Federal Court judge has found it’s ‘more likely than not’ that Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins, meaning he wasn’t defamed by journalist Lisa Wilkinson and Network Ten.
bruce lehrmann raped brittany higgins

A Federal Court judge has found it’s ‘more likely than not’ that Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins, meaning he wasn’t defamed by journalist Lisa Wilkinson and Network Ten.

Today, Justice Michael Lee found even though Lehrmann was identified in an interview on ‘The Project’, the claims made by Wilkinson and Network Ten that Higgins was raped by him were, on the balance of probabilities, true.

Lehrmann continues to maintain his innocence.

Background

In February 2021, former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she had been raped in Parliament House by a colleague in 2019. Higgins made the allegation in an article in news.com.au and an interview with journalist Lisa Wilkinson on Network Ten’s The Project.

Lehrmann was not named in the interview, but he argues he was still identifiable.

He has always denied the allegations and denied any sexual contact took place.

In 2022, a criminal trial was declared a mistrial due to juror misconduct and a re-trial was abandoned.

Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case

After the criminal trial was abandoned, Lehrmann launched defamation proceedings in 2023 over the interview on The Project.

Under defamation law, people can sue if they believe published material has unfairly harmed their reputation.

Alongside Network Ten, Lehrmann also sued news.com.au and the ABC (over its broadcast of a speech by Higgins). He has since settled those cases.

Today’s findings

Justice Lee found Lehrmann was identified in Wilkinson’s interview. Network Ten and Wilkinson had argued that even if Lehrmann was identified, they did not defame him because Higgins’ allegation was truthful.

Because this was a civil case, not a criminal case, this meant Lee then needed to decide whether or not Lehrmann had raped Higgins “on the balance of probabilities”.

In today’s findings, Justice Lee found it was more likely than not that Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins, and thus could not have been defamed.

”I consider it more likely than not, in those early hours… Mr Lehrmann was hellbent on having sex with a woman he found sexually attractive… “In his pursuit of gratification he did not care one way or another whether Miss Higgins knew what was going on… Mr Lehrmann raped Miss Higgins.”

Justice Michael Lee
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Editorial note: TDA’s editor-in-chief is Billi FitzSimons, Lisa Wilkinson’s daughter. Billi had no editorial oversight or involvement with this story or any post we’ve made about this story’s developments.

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