Former PM could give evidence in Reynolds-Higgins case

Aaron Bunch |

Linda Reynolds says she is determined to get justice for those hurt by Brittany Higgins’ claims.
Linda Reynolds says she is determined to get justice for those hurt by Brittany Higgins’ claims.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison could appear as a trial witness as a Liberal senator pursues Brittany Higgins over allegedly defamatory remarks.

Former defence minister Linda Reynolds is suing Ms Higgins over a series of social media posts she says have damaged her reputation.

Mediation has failed to resolve the high-profile case, which returned to the WA Supreme Court for a directions hearing on Tuesday ahead of a likely trial in coming months.

Outside court, Senator Reynolds told reporters she attended the hearing to demonstrate her determination to take the matter to trial and “finally get justice”.

“Not only to clear my name but also to get justice for the many people whose lives have been destroyed,” she said.

“It’s absolutely essential that all parties accept (the findings of Federal Court Justice Michael Lee regarding Bruce Lehrmann), all of his findings, so that the many people who have been damaged by this whole saga can get justice and to get peace.”

Senator Reynolds said Ms Higgins’ claims had “taken a huge toll on my mental and my physical health, and that of my family and former staff”.

 “These allegations of conspiracy and mistreatment are causing ongoing damage to far too many people and it has to stop.

“That is why I’m so determined that if we cannot reach settlement we will certainly be going to trial next month.”

Justice Lee in April delivered his judgment in Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

He found on the balance of probabilities Lehrmann did rape Ms Higgins, but the allegation of a political cover-up “was objectively short on facts but long on speculation”.

“There was never any political conspiracy … Ms Higgins was looked after by myself, and particularly by my chief of staff, Fiona Brown,” Senator Reynolds said.

“It is time that those people who have perpetuated that, agree they were wrong and apologise so that we can all move on.”

Lehrmann is appealing against the Federal Court judgment.

Senator Reynolds said she had been well supported by her federal Liberal Party colleagues since the allegations surfaced in 2021.

“I’ve been particularly grateful in recent times, for the support from Scott Morrison, and for many other colleagues who will be witnesses in this trial,” she said.

Brittany Higgins
Mediation has so far failed between Brittany Higgins and her former boss, senator Linda Reynolds. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Senator Reynolds’ lawyer Martin Bennett said outside court he had filed 17 witness outlines for the trial and Mr Morrison was among them.

“He’s prepared to give evidence,” Mr Bennett said, adding Mr Morrison would be overseas but could testify remotely.

He said there were five more witness outlines to file and hinted Senator Michaelia Cash could be a witness at the trial.

Mr Morrison may not be required to take the stand if Ms Higgins agrees with his evidence, Mr Bennett said.

Senator Reynolds was also pursuing Ms Higgins’ husband, David Sharaz, for defamation but he announced in April he would no longer fight the case and consented to judgment.

Senator Reynolds claimed he had also defamed her in a series of social media posts.

Mr Sharaz was ordered to delete three tweets, a Facebook post and an Instagram story from 2022 and 2023.

The damages Mr Sharaz will have to pay following his admission will be decided after Ms Higgins’ defamation trial later in the year.

Lehrmann denies the sexual assault allegation. His trial was aborted because of juror misconduct and Ms Higgins’ mental health was cited as the reason for no retrial.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

AAP