A video of a joint speech by Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame about sexual assault has been removed from YouTube due to a libel lawsuit, but the former Liberal Party staffer hit back and defiantly posted her entire speech to Instagram.
The ABC is being sued by Bruce Lehrmann over the broadcast of the National Press Club speech in February 2022 in which Ms Higgins claimed she had been raped in Parliament House in 2019.
The video was subsequently posted to ABC’s YouTube channel and had garnered 127,000 views when Mr. Lehrmann’s claim was filed last week, on April 5.
Mr Lehrmann was not named in the address but claims he was identifiable because his name and photo made national headlines when he was charged with sexual assault over Ms Higgins’ allegations in August 2021 – six months before the press club speech.
He strenuously denies the allegations and pleaded not guilty in ACT Supreme Court. The case fell in November and the charges were subsequently dropped.
Mr Lehrmann sent a notice of concern to the ABC in February, giving the broadcaster two months to remove the footage from the internet. He started the lawsuit because the video was not removed within the time limit.
However, the video disappeared from ABC’s YouTube channel last week. Clicking the link now displays an error message: “This video is no longer available.”
Pictured: Brittany Higgins, left, and Grace Tame, right, after their address to the National Press Club
In response to the removal of the address, Ms. Higgins posted a transcript of her speech online
Ms Tame’s 20-minute speech can still be found on the broadcaster’s YouTube channel. Mrs Higgins’ speech is not recorded at all, nor are any of their responses to journalists’ questions.
The ABC declined to comment when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.
Hours after news of the video’s removal made headlines on Friday, Ms Higgins posted a transcript of her entire speech on Instagram.
“In memory of a speech by the National Press Club (middle class) on parliamentary workplace reform and the national plan to end violence against women,” she wrote.
According to Mr Lehrmann’s statement filed with the Federal Court, he suffered further pain because the broadcaster decided to stream the address live – rather than using a delay system to weed out potentially defamatory material.
He further alleges that the choice to publish the full address after the criminal charges were filed was an “apparent contemptuous attempt to prejudice against the applicant the jury before which the proceedings were heard.”
The joint speech by Ms Higgins and Ms Tame, who is also a former Australian of the Year, called for cultural and institutional reform to protect women in the workplace.
During her speech, Mrs Higgins claimed she had been raped in the House of Parliament. Mr Lehrmann sent a notice of concern to the ABC in February, giving the broadcaster two months to remove the footage from the internet. He started the lawsuit because the video was not removed within the time limit
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also criticized for what Ms Tame called ‘national inaction’ on women’s safety, and his administration’s treatment of women.
Ms. Tame was 15 when she was groomed and raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher. She also used her address to speak about systemic issues that silence victims of abuse rather than allow them to speak out.
Mr Lehrmann is also suing Channel 10 and Lisa Wilkinson over an interview on The Project in February 2021 when Ms Higgins first made her accusations.
He has also taken legal action against news.com.au and journalist Samantha Maiden for an online article making the same allegations.
The former political operative was not named by the network or online news outlet, but he claims he was recognizable in political circles.
Before the defamation trials can proceed, a judge must determine whether Mr. Lehrmann can sue after the normal 12-month time limit.
A decision will be made on April 28.
Before the defamation trials can proceed, a judge must determine whether Mr. Lehrmann can sue after the normal 12-month deadline, with a ruling due on April 28.