Bruce Lehrmann appeared flustered on the second day of his defamation trial
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It wasn’t until about 2.30pm on the second day of defamation proceedings that, for the first time under oath, Bruce Lehrmann was challenged about his version of events on the night he alleged raped Brittany Higgins.

He had spent Wednesday afternoon and much of Thursday being examined by his own barrister, Steven Whybrow SC, in the Federal Court about what happened in Parliament House in the early hours of March 23, 2021.

Mr Lehrmann has continually denied assaulting Ms Higgins, and is now suing Lisa Wilkinson and Channel 10 for airing her allegations on The Project on February 15, 2021. 

Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) appeared in the Federal Court on Thursday for the second day of a defamation trial

Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) appeared in the Federal Court on Thursday for the second day of a defamation trial

Mr Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson (centre) for airing Britanny Higgins' rape allegations on The Project on February 15, 2021

Mr Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson (centre) for airing Britanny Higgins’ rape allegations on The Project on February 15, 2021

He wasn’t named in the broadcast, but claims friends and former colleagues were able to identify him as the alleged rapist.

The former staffer confidently told the court on Thursday that he went back to Parliament that evening to collect his keys, and maintained that he and Ms Higgins went in opposite directions once they entered Linda Reynolds’ ministerial suite. 

He appeared calm and collected throughout Thursday, but his confidence appeared to waver under cross-examination by Ten’s barrister, Matthew Collins KC.

Mr Lehrmann had a couple of hairy moments – he had never been questioned in court about any of it before – and appeared slightly flushed on the stand.

He has only ever been cross-examined once in March this year, during his application to proceed with the defamation case after the normal one-year limit.

He was repeatedly asked whether he remembered specific conversations he had with former colleagues more than four years ago, and repeatedly said: ‘Dr Collins, I don’t recall.’

Mr Lehrmann (third from right) was cross-examined by Ten's barrister, Matthew Collins KC, who grilled him over allegations he found Ms Higgins (centre) attractive

Mr Lehrmann (third from right) was cross-examined by Ten’s barrister, Matthew Collins KC, who grilled him over allegations he found Ms Higgins (centre) attractive 

Dr Collins put to Mr Lehrmann that he told two other staffers that he found Ms Higgins attractive.

‘You said to Ms Hamer in the presence of Mr Watten “message her”,’ Dr Collins said.

‘That is, message her and see if she’s free to come to the pub.’

Mr Lehrmann replied: ‘I don’t recall that happening.’

Mr Lehrmann told the court he lost friends over The Project broadcast, checked in to a mental health clinic, and that his life ‘completely spiralled’.

When asked about the impact The Project episode had on his life, Mr Lehrmann told the court: ‘The Project has completely destroyed me.’

‘Everything flowed from that – losing friends, finances, sections of my family haven’t bothered to contact me.’

Mr Lehrmann told the court that he was ‘booted’ from Facebook group chats within the week of February 15, 2021 – when The Project interview was broadcast. 

When he wasn’t on the stand, he sat in the front row at the far edge of the courtroom, watching carefully.

Aside from the witness and the barrister, all that could be heard in the courtroom was the furious tapping of keyboards. 

Ms Wilkinson (left) turned heads again when she turned up at the Federal Court on Thursday

Ms Wilkinson (left) turned heads again when she turned up at the Federal Court on Thursday

Mr Lehrmann has continually denied assaulting Ms Higgins (pictured left with partner David Sharaz)

Mr Lehrmann has continually denied assaulting Ms Higgins (pictured left with partner David Sharaz)

Wilkinson, on the other hand, turned heads again when she turned up for a second day, having largely avoided the limelight since her Logies acceptance speech last year.

She resumed her seat in the front row, at the opposite end of the gallery to Mr Lehrmann, and appeared unflappable as that same speech was played to the court.

During that televised speech, she defiantly praised Ms Higgins for going public with her allegations and for ‘never giving up’.

She subsequently got a dressing-down from the ACT Chief Justice who was concerned jurors might watch it and prejudice the trial.

At the time, in June 2022, the criminal trial was only days away. It was then rescheduled to October.

But no one would have known any of that based purely on Wilkinson’s reactions in court on Thursday.

The TV host would occasionally open her black book to write notes, before closing it and paying careful attention to the proceedings. 

Outside the courtroom, Wilkinson was all smiles as she walked alongside barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC and Dr Collins. 

The trial continues tomorrow.  



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