Brittany Higgins is grilled over $325,000 ‘book deal’ text to Lisa Wilkinson and Peter FitzSimons

Author: Yuvi October 7, 2022

Brittany Higgins has been grilled in court over a $325,000 book deal arranged for her by Lisa Wilkinson’s husband, Peter FitzSimons.

It came as the ex-Liberal staffer admitted to a jury that she had planned chapters of a book about her life before she was formally interviewed by police about her rape claims.

The 27-year-old alleges her former colleague Bruce Lehrmann sexually assaulted her in Parliament House after a drunken night out in March 2019.

Mr Lehrmann is standing trial in the ACT Supreme Court, after pleading not guilty to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

On Friday, defense barrister Steven Whybrow cross-examined Ms Higgins over the moment FitzSimons approached her and suggested she write a book.

Mr Whybrow also confronted Ms Higgins over a message she sent to her boyfriend David Sharaz which read: ‘I’m clearing out my phone ahead of the police.’

Former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins and partner David Sharaz arrive at the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra

Defense lawyer Steven Whybrow questioned her about a book deal and texts she sent to Ms Wilkinson and Mr FitzSimons.

Defense lawyer Steven Whybrow questioned her about a book deal and texts she sent to Ms Wilkinson and Mr FitzSimons.

In a highly charged moment in court, Mr Whybrow put to Ms Higgins that she ‘did not sit down for an interview with police until February 24, 2021.

‘It was the case that you already started to set out and outline some chapters for a book you were thinking of writing.’

Ms Higgins replied: ‘There was no prospect of [the book] really being a tangible product.

‘I felt like I needed to document my experience. It was a strange, full-circle moment that came to fruition. When I started writing, there was no prospect.’

Ms Higgins told the court she met Ms Wilkinson and her husband Mr FitzSimons at an event in early 2021, at which time he told her: ‘You need to write a book’.

,[Mr FitzSimons said he] would act as my agent, and I said ‘sure’ and within a day he came back with offers,’ she told the court.

Mr Whybrow put to Ms Higgins that she asked Mr FitzSimons about a potential book, to which the alleged victim replied: ‘I really didn’t ask – he approached me.’

‘He said, ‘I know people, I’m going to ask them for you’.’

Mr Whybrow then put to Ms Higgins that she was offered $325,000 on March 16, 2021, to write a book outlining her experiences.

He then cited a text Ms Higgins sent to Ms Wilkinson and FitzSimons that said: ‘I am blown away.

‘Yes I can absolutely do this … I’ve had the chapters outlined for the last month or so.’

Ms Higgins agreed with Mr Whybrow that she started outlining the chapters for the book before she made a formal statement to police.

Earlier in the day, Mr Whybrow grilled Ms Higgins over whether she deleted messages and audio from her phone prior to handing it to police.

He suggested to her in court: ‘You sent a number of files to Mr Sharaz and, when asked what they were, you said – old audio, ‘I’m clearing out my phone ahead of the police’.

She was also confronted over a message she sent to her boyfriend David Sharaz which read: 'I'm clearing out my phone ahead of the police'

She was also confronted over a message she sent to her boyfriend David Sharaz which read: ‘I’m clearing out my phone ahead of the police’

Ms Higgins told the court she sent recordings to her partner because ‘I was terrified of them not existing. I kept those on a USB stick.

‘I handed over my phone and gave the audio on a USB stick.’

Mr Whybrow put to Ms Higgins that she continually refused to hand her phone over to police, despite being asked on multiple occasions in 2021.

He suggested she had an appointment with police to hand her phone over on March 21, 2021, but she didn’t go to the appointment due to an ‘urgent legal matter … a defamation incident with Ms Reynolds,’ he told the court .

‘Ah yes,’ replied Ms Higgins. ‘Lying cow. I remember.’

Ms Higgins agreed that she did not hand over her phone for a number of weeks, despite being asked to, and became emotional when explaining why.

‘I was terrified on the basis that, [on the week of May 21] I found out that the moment I reengaged with police that any politically sensitive matters that are within the remit of police gets reported to the home affairs minister.’

She said former home affairs minister Peter Dutton had information about her before she made her official police statement.

‘I was very scared,’ she told the court.

‘I was seeking legal advice to know my rights because I was terrified.’

Cross-examination of Ms Higgins continues on Monday. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

7 October, 2022, 11:14 am

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