A senior official acting in the libel proceedings involving Bruce Lehrmann has demanded to know why crucial CCTV showing Mr Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins in Parliament on the night of their alleged rape has not been disclosed in a subpoena.
Documents from numerous parties, including author Peter FitzSimons, publisher Penguin Random House and ABC journalist Laura Tingle, are being subpoenaed in Federal Court defamation proceedings brought by former political staffer against Network 10 journalist Lisa Wilkinson and ABC.
On Friday, the court was told that Parliament House “did not have” part of the CCTV from the night of March 22, 2019 that captured the couple in Canberra.
Sue Chrysanthou SC, representing Ms Wilkinson, noted that some of the footage had already been broadcast.
A CCTV showing Brice Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins at Parliament House on the night of their alleged rape was broadcast by Channel Seven.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) is suing Lisa Wilkinson and ABC for defamation over broadcasts that he says defamed him by suggesting he raped Brittany Higgins at Parliament House.
“(It is) concerning that there is not a full production (of the footage),” he said.
“Given the relevance of the footage to the facts at issue between the parties, we believe there should be some explanation as to why such material has not been produced.”
Lehrmann is suing Network 10 and Wilkinson over their 2021 coverage of the Higgins allegations.
Although he was not named in initial reports, Mr Lehrmann claims he was still identified by media companies and there were four defamatory meanings in his post, implying that he raped Ms Higgins at Parliament House in March of 2019.
He has denied all the accusations.
Lehrmann is also suing ABC over its live broadcast of Higgins’ speech to the National Press Club in February 2022, alleging that the broadcast implied that he had raped Higgins.
Mr. Lehrmann was not named in the speech.
During a case management hearing on Friday, the court was told that Mr FitzSimons, a high-profile journalist and husband of Ms Wilkinson, along with Ms Tingle, who presented the NPC speech on the subject of ABC’s defamation proceedings, were being subpoenaed to produce documents.
Ms Chrysanthou said she was “concerned” that Parliament House said they did not have crucial CCTV on the night of the alleged rape.
Brittany Higgins (pictured) went public with her allegations against former colleague Bruce Lerhmann in 2021
The court was told that the Parliamentary Services Department would make a further request as to why the material had not been produced at a later date.
Ms Chrysanthou indicated she wished to pursue them for this, as Channel 7’s Spotlight had already aired some of the footage in her exclusive interview with Mr Lehrmann last month.
The court was also told that there were disputes over several summonses that had been issued.
One involved discussions between Mr. FitzSimons and Ms. Higgins over a lucrative book deal estimated to be worth over $325,000.
Ms Chrysanthou questioned the relevance of including these discussions, as the publications of Ms Higgins’ rape allegation did not occur until February 2021, and the alleged book deal occurred much later.
The court was also told that Ms Higgins raised the rape allegation within ‘days’ of the alleged incident.
“How does…a book contract have anything, or could possibly have anything to do with (her) credit?” Ms Chrysanthou asked.
Federal Court Judge Michael Lee allowed the subpoena, stating that it was “sufficiently relevant” to the proceeding.
A new case management hearing has been scheduled for July 17.
Sue Chrysanthou SC told the court she was “concerned” that Parliament House said they did not have crucial CCTV on the night of the alleged rape.
In May, Lehrmann withdrew a defamation lawsuit against News Corp’s News Life Media and journalist Samantha Maiden.
News Life Media did not have to apologize or pay damages, and articles of concern have remained online.
Lehrmann’s Supreme Court trial on the ACT last year was aborted due to jury misconduct.
He had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Ms. Higgins.
The charges were later dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who refused to hold a new trial due to concerns about Ms Higgins’ mental health.
Lehrmann has continued to deny the allegations.
Bruce Lehrmann is suing Network 10 and journalist Lisa Wilkinson (pictured with her husband Peter FitzSimons)