Brittany Higgins will sue former federal ministers Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash and the Commonwealth for $3million as fallout from one of Australia’s most high-profile rape trials continues.
Lawyers for the former Liberal staffer have given notice they will pursue a civil court claim this month after the sexual assault case she was a complainant in was sensationally abandoned on Friday.
Senator Reynolds has since confirmed she was advised that same day by Ms Higgins’ lawyers of their intentions to file a compensation claim.
Bruce Lehrmann, 27, was accused of sexually assaulting his former colleague Ms Higgins, 28, inside Parliament House in March 2019 – an allegation he has strenuously denied.
The first trial was abandoned in October when a member of the jury brought in banned reading material – a study on false rape allegations – during deliberations.
The case was set for a second trial next year before it was dropped by ACT Director of Public Prosecutions amid fears a retrial would negatively affect Ms Higgins’ mental health after she was recently hospitalised.
Ms Higgins’ partner David Sharaz slammed the former Defence Minister for revealing the unknown information about civil proceedings in a furious tweet on Sunday night.
Brittany Higgins’ partner David Sharaz (pictured together) slammed the former Defence Minister for revealing the unknown information about civil proceedings in a furious tweet on Sunday night
Ms Higgins will sue the Commonwealth and her two former bosses, Senators Linda Reynolds (right) and Michaelia Cash (left)
‘First Linda sent her husband in to watch a victim’s cross-examination and was texting the defence team tips,’ he posted.
‘Now she’s leaking privileged information to the paper while Britt’s fragile in a clinic. When will the bullying end @lindareynoldswa?’
It has also emerged Mr Lehrmann could also seek cash compensation as he’s now ‘broke’ and considering selling his story to the highest bidder.
Ms Higgins was working for then-Defence Minister Senator Reynolds at the time of the alleged incident before leaving to take a position with Senator Cash.
Blumers Personal Injury Lawyers has indicated it’s pressing ahead with the compensation claim for Ms Higgins.
The Canberra-based firm has sent documents to both of their client’s former bosses and the Commonwealth setting out an intention to sue for sexual harassment, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, negligence, and victimisation.
An official claim is yet to be filed as the involved parties prepare to enter into mediation talks.
Senator Reynolds confirmed she was advised by Ms Higgins’ lawyers on Friday about their intentions to progress the claim, The Age reported.
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins (pictured at the recent trial) will seek $3million in compensation
‘I confirm that I was advised in March this year by Blumers law firm, who act for Brittany Higgins, of a civil claim by Ms Higgins against me and other parties,’ Ms Reynolds said.
‘However, proceedings have yet to be filed. Blumers advised me on Friday that their client intends to progress the civil claim this month.’
Sources who have seen the legal document claim Ms Higgins will seek compensation for lost earnings, future earnings and at-home support.
It includes $2.5 million for future economic loss, up to $100,000 for past economic loss $100,000 for general damages, $20,0000 for future assistance with domestic duties and $150,000 for past and future out-of-pocket expenses.
A date has been set for mediation between the parties on December 13.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) is considering selling his story to the highest bidder after the sexual assault case against him was dropped
Sources close to Reynolds said she agreed to a time extension that would expire on Tuesday, which means Higgins’ lawyers would need to file their case in court by then.
It is understood Noor Blumer, a founding partner of Blumers Lawyers has been quietly negotiating the claim since February.
She has declined to comment on the matter or any mediation talks.
Ms Higgins’ lawyer Leon Zwier, who supported Higgins during the criminal case in Canberra, is aware of the claim.
Ms Higgins was in hospital on Friday when prosecutors confirmed the second trial would not be going ahead.
She broke her silence on Instagram on Sunday to reiterate the same statement she made outside a Canberra court in October after a juror triggered a mistrial.
A second criminal trial was dropped by ACT Director of Public Prosecutions amid fears a retrial would negatively affect Ms Higgins’ mental health after she was recently hospitalised
The post was inundated with messages of public support, including her good friend, sexual abuse survivor advocate Grace Tame.
Ms Higgins thanked the court and its officers who ‘treated me with such respect when I was there’.
‘I chose to speak up,’ Ms Higgins wrote.
‘To speak up and share my experience with others.’
Ms Higgins said her life had been ‘publicly scrutinised, open for the world to see’ as she said she knew ‘the odds were stacked against me from the outset’.
‘Most importantly, I want to thank the workers in our mental healthcare system, without whom, I literally would not be here today,’ she wrote.
Ms Higgins also thanked the DPP – the team that pursued the case, her lawyers, family and her partner David Sharaz.
Mr Lehrmann (pictured in Canberra in October) is also seeking cash compensation, with his lawyers considering a Comcare claim, defamation action against media outlets, and unfair dismissal from the jobs he lost after the rape allegations emerged
Ms Higgins (pictured) has not worked full-time since she went public with her account of the alleged incident at Parliament House in February, 2021
Ms Higgins has not worked full-time since she went public with her account of the alleged incident almost two years later in February, 2021.
Mr Lehrmann is also seeking cash compensation, with his lawyers considering a Comcare claim, defamation action against media outlets, and unfair dismissal from the jobs he lost after the rape allegations emerged.
Mr Lehrmann was previously earning up to $200,000 a year as a senior adviser for the Liberal Party before he was terminated in 2021.
Since being accused of rape, he is now reportedly ‘broke’ and left unable to get a job.
He was removed from welfare during the trial because he was unable to meet Centrelink’s mutual obligation requirements.
To try and make ends meet, the former staffer is now chopping wood for a friend’s dad at a property in Tasmania and looking for more work, reports news.com.au.
According to the publication, Mr Lehrmann is also considering doing paid TV interviews to try and scrape money together to pay back some of his legal fees.
Some networks have contacted him for a paid TV interview since the charge against him was dropped.
Mr Lehrmann is considering filing legal action for alleged defamation throughout the trial as well as lodging an unfair dismissal claim against the Liberal Party.
Several media outlets along with social media platforms Facebook and Twitter could be in the firing line as his legal team look towards issuing defamation concern notices.