Higgins and Reynolds defamation court case continues

Neve Brissenden |

Brittany Higgins and her partner have bunkered down for mediation talks with Senator Linda Reynolds.
Brittany Higgins and her partner have bunkered down for mediation talks with Senator Linda Reynolds.

Linda Reynolds has emerged from a near-10-hour court mediation session declaring that her defamation suit with Brittany Higgins and fiance David Sharaz is ongoing.

The Liberal senator spent most of Tuesday in closed-door talks with the former political staffers at Perth’s David Malcolm Justice Centre.

It was “inappropriate to comment”, Senator Reynolds said as she left, adding that “negotiations are ongoing” and confirming the matter was not due back in court on Wednesday.

The former defence minister is suing Ms Higgins and Mr Sharaz over a series of social media posts she says damaged her reputation.

The couple said nothing to waiting media as they left court on Tuesday.

They left Australia in December to start a new life in France, with social media posts showing the Arc de Triomphe and the couple walking a dog.

Brittany Higgins
Former political staffer Brittany Higgins is being sued for defamation by Senator Linda Reynolds. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Lawyers for the parties appeared in the Western Australian Supreme Court in February, when they sorted out key dates in preparation for a trial should mediation fail.

Justice Marcus Solomon encouraged the parties to work together to resolve the matter before a lengthy and costly trial.

Senator Reynolds is suing Mr Sharaz over tweets he made and a Facebook comment in 2022.

Among the defamatory imputations claimed against Mr Sharaz’s tweets were that Senator Reynolds pressured Ms Higgins not to proceed with a genuine complaint to police, “is a hypocrite in her advocacy for women’s interests and empowerment”, interfered in Bruce Lehrmann’s trial and bullied Ms Higgins.

Senator Reynolds claims she was also defamed by Mr Sharaz’s reply to a comment on her Facebook page that asked how she was still in politics having “destroyed” Ms Higgins.

The commenter added, “You’re a monster who deserves to be in jail”.

David Sharaz arrives at the David Malcolm Justice Centre
Mr Sharaz is being sued over tweets he made and a Facebook comment in 2022. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Sharaz responded: “Thanks for reminding her. I hope she hears this every day until she dies,” the senator’s statement of claim says.

Ms Higgins is accused of posting defamatory material on two occasions on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Ms Higgins alleged she was raped in 2019 by Lehrmann inside Senator Reynolds’ ministerial office, where he also worked as a staffer.

Lehrmann has always denied the allegation, and his trial in the ACT Supreme Court was derailed by juror misconduct. 

Prosecutors decided not to pursue further action, citing concerns of the impact it might have on Ms Higgins’ mental health.

He has since been charged with raping another woman in Queensland and his lawyers have indicated he will plead not guilty.

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