Bruce Lehrmann defamation: New details on Brittany’s Higgins meeting with Scott Morrison included in memoir

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Brittany Higgins wrote of playing “game planning” for her meeting with Scott Morrison in her unreleased memoir, with fresh pages released by the court as evidence in the Bruce Lehrmann and Network 10 defamation case.

Ms Higgins signed a $250,000 book deal with Penguin Random House Australia in 2021 to “shine a light on the culture inside the corridors of power”.

Now, fresh pages have been released in documents published by the Federal Court where Ms Higgins revealed she was “game planning” before meeting with former prime minister Scott Morrison in 2021 with her partner David Sharaz.

“We had become quite a twosome when it came to game planning. My experience as a media adviser, David’s experience as a producer; together we understood how the gallery media sphere operated,” an excerpt from the book read.

According to the court documents, the meeting took place in Sydney in April 2021, after which Ms Higgins said: “The prime minister acknowledged that the system had let me down”.

In her memoir, Ms Higgins discussed how in accepting the meeting with Scott Morrison, she had “to set the agenda”, and the meeting had to happen in Canberra, which Mr Sharaz was hesitant about.

“Grabbing his hand, ‘if the prime minister doesn’t have the dignity to privately extend this olive branch, I want him to be publicly accountable for this meeting with me’,” the book read.

“I’ll pre-draft a statement about the meeting asserting the items which we will discuss so the prime minister’s office isn’t able to spin it.”

She also wrote of taking “reinforcements in the form of Mike Baird and potentially Jessica Rudd”, adding she needed to be “bipartisan”.

The new pages in the court documents also detail how Ms Higgins claimed she was well-versed in “media games”, having learned from the Liberal Party.

“The Liberal Party had spent the last three years training me how to play media games. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. It had to be seamless. It needed to be done before a sitting fortnight,” the excerpt read.

She added that when the party “went into election mode” the media would be pumping out stories, making it a “now or never” moment for Ms Higgins.

Writing of her speech at the March4Justice, Ms Higgins recalled a young girl and her mother approaching her at the Ostani bar in Barton, with the little girl having the word “ENOUGH” written on her cheeks.

The pair asked her to take a photo with her, with Ms Higgins thanking them for going to the rally.

“It was then that I realised, deservedly or not, that this was my legacy. Forever my name would be tied to March4Justice and this will likely be the most defining moment of my life.”

“WHY AM I HERE”

In the documents published by the court, Ms Higgins detailed waking up in Parliament House the morning after she alleged former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann raped her.

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexually assaulting Ms Higgins in the office of their former boss, then-defence minister Linda Reynolds, in 2019 before the trial was aborted.

He has continually denied the allegation and there have been no findings made against him.

“I tried helplessly to regain the modesty I realised had been lost,” she wrote, adding she pulled down her dress that was hanging loosely around (her) midsection like a belt,” Ms Higgins wrote.

“The feeling of sick struck suddenly. Choking it back, tears began to stream down my face. I’m at work, I’m at Parliament, why am I here.”

According to the documents, after “phasing in and phasing out” on the couch, Ms Higgins wrote she went to the minister’s private bathroom where she vomited.

“My whole body hurt. It ached in a way that felt inherently wrong … I winced in pain. I had cut my knee. somehow. I watched woozily as fresh blood seeped from the wound.”

She waited for her phone to recharge when she found Senator Reynold’s box of goodwill clothes, pulling out an oversized black and white jacket, according to the excerpt.

“My skin felt exposed, the lingering feeling of nakedness persisted,” Ms Higgins wrote.

Walking out of Parliament, Ms Higgins wrote she “vaguely remembered being ushered through security the night before”.

“For the first time, my mind settled uncomfortably on Bruce.”

“Every inch of me felt violated. My body seemed to echo the unease I felt of unsanctioned touch. My Uber pulled up and I made the trip home.”

“GIVE THE GOVERNMENT AN OUT”

According to the court documents, Higgins claimed former Nine political editor Chris Uhlmann told her to “offer the government an out” in a phone call while she stayed with her father on the Gold Coast.

“There was an unnerving closeness about the relationship between the prime minister’s press secretary Andrew Carswell and Mr Uhlmann. He would happily ‘play a straight bat’ on a story if he was provided with the exclusive,” Ms Higgins wrote.

“This continual drip feeding of news and drops announcements had rendered Uhlmann less of a journalist and more of a mouthpiece.”

According to the court documents, she described crying on the phone to Mr Uhlmann, telling him “on background” that she and Yaron Finkelstein — Scott Morrison’s former principal private secretary — hadn’t “discussed (her) rape explicitly”.

“Look, I’m just one person. I am holed up in my dad’s apartment on the Gold Coast and I feel like I am now somehow going up against the media arm of the Prime Minister’s

office. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me and now I am having to defend myself on the national stage,” Ms Higgins said to Mr Uhlmann, according to her memoir.

In the excerpt, she writes that she told the news veteran she felt as if it wasn’t “fair” and that she just needed “everyone to back off”.

Ms Higgins wrote that Mr Uhlmann had then told her she had “backed them (the government) into a corner”.

“’If you want this to stop, you’ve got to offer the government an out. Give them a concession, let them off the hook and the story will go away,’” she alleged he said. “Otherwise, you’ve left them with very few options but to go on the offensive. Just, think about it.”

Ms Higgins concluded by asking herself if a journalist really did “just advocate to a rape victim that they should give the Government a free pass”.

The allegations contained in the book outline have never been tested in court and there is no independent verification of the claims made by Ms Higgins concerning the named individuals.

Read related topics:Scott Morrison