Watch live: Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case continues as security guard’s notebook revealed
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Former federal Liberal political staffer Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case continues on Monday after the Federal Court released a raft of exhibits publicly, including a security guard’s handwritten notes recording an incident in Parliament House.
Former Parliament House security guard Nikola Anderson gave evidence in the Federal Court in Sydney on Thursday that she was on duty on the night Lehrmann’s former colleague Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped by him in the office of their boss, then-Liberal defence industry minister Linda Reynolds.
Bruce Lehrmann leaves the Federal Court on Friday, December 8, 2023.Credit: Nikki Short
Extracts of Anderson’s 2019 notebook were tendered in evidence in court and released publicly on Friday. In an entry on March 22 and 23, 2019, Anderson wrote: “Incident happened. Naked in Reynolds office. Welfare check approx 4.20.”
Higgins has alleged Lehrmann raped her on the couch in Reynolds’ ministerial office in the early hours of Saturday, March 23, 2019, after a Friday night drinking with colleagues in Canberra.
A diary entry from a security guard submitted into evidence part of the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case.
Lehrmann has told the court the alleged assault “did not happen” and there was no sexual contact between the pair at all.
Anderson let Lehrmann and Higgins into Reynolds’ ministerial suite in Parliament House at approximately 1.50am on March 23, she wrote in an incident report tendered in evidence in court.
Security guard Nikola Anderson was on duty the night Brittany Higgins claims she was raped by Bruce Lehrmann.Credit: Kate Geraghty
She said that she conducted a welfare check about 4.15am and found the “female pass holder” she had let into the suite naked on Reynolds’ couch.
The defamation suit
Lehrmann is suing Ten and its journalist Lisa Wilkinson over an interview with Higgins, aired on The Project on February 15, 2021, that he alleges defames him by suggesting he is guilty of raping Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.
He was not named in Ten’s broadcast and a preliminary issue in the case is whether he was identified via other means.
Bruce Lehrmann is suing Channel 10 and Lisa Wilkinson (left) for defamation after The Project aired an interview with Brittany Higgins.Credit: Nikki Short
If the court finds he was identified, Ten and Wilkinson are seeking to rely on a range of defences including truth, which would require the court to be satisfied to the civil standard – on the balance of probabilities – that he raped Higgins. In a criminal trial, a prosecutor must prove an accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Ten and Wilkinson called Higgins to give evidence as part of their truth defence.
Ten is expected to call further witnesses on Monday as part of its defence. On Friday, Justice Michael Lee ruled that it could tender an expert lip-reader’s report expressing an opinion on words spoken by Higgins and Lehrmann at The Dock hotel in Canberra in the hours before the alleged assault, based on an analysis of CCTV footage.
Lehrmann’s legal team unsuccessfully argued that the report should not be admitted in evidence and they have yet to cross-examine the expert.
Lee made clear that his ruling allowing the report to be admitted in evidence was not an indication of the weight he would ultimately place on the opinions expressed in it.
Sexual assault charge dropped
Lehrmann’s ACT Supreme Court trial for sexual assault was aborted last year due to juror misconduct. The charge against Lehrmann was later dropped altogether owing to concerns about Higgins’ mental health.
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