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Senator’s $90k payout after ‘disturbing’ claim

More TONY BURKE and Jacqui Lambie
WA Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds has received $90,000 and a formal apology after being ­accused of “disturbing conduct” by the territory’s former top prosecutor during Bruce Lehrmann’s rape trial.

The ACT government has agreed to pay $90,000 to Senator Reynolds, including $70,000 in damages and $20,000 in legal fees, after she sued the government and former chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold for defamation in December.

Senator Reynolds launched her legal case following the trial of former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann for the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins.

Shortly after the trial was abandoned due to juror misconduct, and the charge against Mr Lehrmann dropped, former ACT prosecutor Shane Drumgold referred to Senator Reynolds’ conduct during the trial as “disturbing” in a letter to the Australian Federal Police that was also shared with the media.

A settlement was reached between the ACT and Senator Reynolds on Friday.

ARCHIVE Shane Drumgold Press conference 2/12/2022
Shane Drumgold resigned in August last year. Picture: Martin Ollman/NCA NewsWire.

“We accept that allegations about Senator Reynolds made by the former Director of Public Prosecutions were found by the Board of Inquiry to be defamatory,” a Justice and Community Safety Directorate spokesperson said.

“The settlement includes a formal apology from the Territory and retraction of the allegations contained in the letter from the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold SC.

“We also agreed to an undertaking from the acting Director of Public Prosecutions that he will direct his staff not to further publish the allegations made against Senator Reynolds.”

Senator Reynolds launched separate defamation cases against Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz. Picture: David Sharaz/Instagram
Senator Reynolds launched separate defamation cases against Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz. Picture: David Sharaz/Instagram

Senator Reynolds shared a statement to Facebook on Monday in the wake of her win.

“Since the conclusion of the criminal trial R v Lehrmann and Ms Brittany Higgins’ compensation claim against the Commonwealth, I have set about vindicating my reputation, which I consider has been wrongly damaged,” she wrote.

“This settlement is the fifth defamation claim I have resolved to my satisfaction.”

The WA Senator is also suing formal political staffer Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz over a series of social media posts that she claims damaged her reputation.

Ms Higgins alleged she was raped in 2019 by Mr Lehrmann inside of Senator Reynolds’ office, where she worked as a staff member.

Mr Lehrmann has maintained his innocence and no findings have ever been made against him.

Both Ms Higgins and Senator Reynolds are expected to come face-to-face in Perth on Tuesday, as part of a two-day meditation session aimed at reaching a settlement.

Should meditation talks be unsuccessful, a six-week trial will then take place in July.