Brittany Higgins is due to return to the witness stand today to finish giving evidence in the high-profile trial of her alleged rapist – after being absent for four days.
Bruce Lehrmann has been accused of having non-consensual sex with Ms Higgins in Parliament following a night out in Canberra in March 2019.
He has pleaded not guilty to one count of intercourse without consent in the ACT Supreme Court.
Ms Higgins was on the witness stand last week and was due to continue to be cross-examined by Lehrmann’s defense lawyer Steven Whybrow on Monday.
But the prosecution told the court she was ‘unavailable’ until Friday this week.
The trial continued with other witnesses, but the court has banned their evidence from being published until Ms Higgins has completed her evidence.
Brittany Higgins (pictured) to return to the witness stand in the ACT Supreme Court case against her accused rapist
Mrs Higgins (centre) was declared “unavailable” to attend court on Monday, absent for four days
The court has previously heard from Mrs Higgins and Lehrmann returned to Parliament after an evening of drinking with Defense Department colleagues.
The former Venstre employee claims that she fell asleep on the couch and woke up to Lehrmann having sex with her.
Former Coalition Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds, Ms Higgins’ boss at the time of the alleged assault, is due to give evidence in court on Tuesday.
Senator Michaelia Cash is also expected to be on the witness stand early next week before the Crown concludes its case.
However, the witness list has been significantly shortened – TV presenter Lisa Wilkinson and News Corp journalist Samantha Maiden no longer have to give evidence.
Last week, Ms Higgins became visibly emotional at times when questioned by Mr. Whybrow.
Texts she sent to her father and boyfriend were shared, as were messages about a potential $325,000 book deal with Lisa Wilkinson’s husband, Peter FitzSimons.
At one point she objected to Mr. Whybrow’s questioning and accused him of being ‘deeply insulting’.
“You are so wrong,” she said. ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever been through trauma before… It’s confronting, it’s a very difficult thing to do. I was bedridden, I did my best. I completely reject everything you say.’
Bruce Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent
Mr. Whybrow also confronted Ms Higgins about a message she sent to her boyfriend David Sharaz, which read: “I’m clearing my phone in front of the police.”
Mrs Higgins told the court she sent recordings from her phone to her partner because “I was afraid they didn’t exist”.
While grilling about a $325,000 book deal arranged for her, The former Liberal staffer admitted to a jury that she had planned chapters in a book about her life before she was formally interviewed by police about her rape allegations.
It also emerged in court that Ms Wilkinson was ‘quite angry’ when her interview with Ms Higgins aired on The Project on a Monday because it is not a day she normally appeared on the programme.
Ms Higgins also told the court she was “clearly wrong” when she said she kept the dress she was allegedly raped in hidden under her bed for six months.
The former political operative was confronted with a photo showing her wearing the white cocktail number at a birthday party, about two months after the alleged incident.
Ms Higgins told Lehrmann’s ACT rape case she put the dress she wore that night in a plastic bag under her bed for six months, ‘untouched and defiled’.
She told the jury that as soon as it was clear she could not report the alleged assault without losing her job with Defense Secretary Reynolds, she “very symbolically washed the dress”.
“I wore it one more time, but I never used it again after that,” she said.
But under cross-examination by Lehrmann’s lawyer, Mr Whybrow, Ms Higgins was shown a photograph of her wearing the same dress in May 2019 at Ms Reynolds’ birthday party in Perth.
During cross-examination by Mr. Whybrow denied Ms Higgins had lied – but admitted she had made a mistake in her timeline of events.
Mr. Whybrow told her she left for Perth on April 13, which would mean the dress was only under her bed for a few weeks, rather than the six months she originally claimed.
‘It stayed under my bed for a period of time,’ she told the court.
‘I said six months, I was definitely wrong about that, but it stayed under my bed for a period of time.’
Asked if it would have been difficult for her to wear that dress again, Ms Higgins told the court: ‘I reclaimed my agency when I took it to Perth.
‘It was an empowering thing to say that the worst thing in the world happened to me in this dress and I never wore it beyond that time.
‘It sounds silly, but it’s just the truth.’