Bruce Lehrmann has accused Brittany Higgins of having “fabricated” a photo of a bruise she claimed he inflicted during an alleged sexual assault.
In February 2021, Ms Higgins spoke on The Project with host Lisa Wilkinson in an explosive interview regarding the alleged rape, during which she shared a disturbing image of a large bruise on her leg.
On Sunday evening, Mr Lehrmann addressed the photograph in his own sit-down interview on the Channel 7’s Spotlight program, denying the authenticity of the image.
“It was fabricated,” he said.
“That’s the only explanation … or it’s a bruise from much later.”
Ms Higgins said in her 2021 interview that the site of the bruise was “essentially where (Mr Lehrmann’s) leg pinned (her) down”.
“It’s quite a large bruise, and it’s just the weight, obviously, of his leg pinning me down,” she said.
“I have this weird big bruise on the basis of where it was sort of positioned.”
Ms Higgins said she took the photograph in the office “a couple of days after” the alleged incident occurred in February 2019, as the mark “took a little bit” of time to appear.
The reliability of the image was contested during Mr Lehrmann’s trial, as Ms Higgins didn’t mention the bruise or the photo in AFP interviews.
Police examinations could not locate the image or any reference to it in text messages until 2021.
On Sunday, Spotlight host Liam Bartlett asked Mr Lehrmann whether he was suggesting Ms Higgins “took that picture and used it”, to which he nodded in reply.
“It would appear that she’s given that to The Project to enhance the weaponisation of her sexual assault allegation,” Mr Lehrmann said.
“It’s pretty sick.”
He said “it would appear” that he had been framed by Ms Higgins, suggesting she made up the assault “to save (her) job” after she saw him “getting the turf”.
Seven also aired never-before-seen security footage of Parliament House from the night of the alleged assault as well as audio from a recording of a five-hour lunch between Ms Higgins, her boyfriend David Sharaz and Wilkinson prior to the February 15 interview.
During the meeting, Ms Higgins told Wilkinson that as a “girl from the western suburbs of Sydney”, she would always be motivated by “exactly the same thing”.
“People who deserve to be heard, not being heard,” she said.
Wilkinson said while she didn’t want to “put words in (her) mouth”, she would like Ms Higgins to discuss the work culture of Parliament House.
The Project host suggested Ms Higgins could “enunciate the fact that this place is all about suppression of people’s natural sense of justice”.
On Sunday Mr Lehrmann said Ms Higgins had told a “white lie” to protect her job “and then she’s come into contact with media elites that have sort of latched onto this … to weaponise it … and to advance a movement, really”.
Both Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann were Liberal staffers at the time of the alleged assault, with CCTV vision placing them at Parliament House in the early hours of March 23, 2019.
The two had been out drinking with other colleagues before agreeing to split a rideshare to their respective homes.
Instead, the pair went to Parliament House, Mr Lehrmann subsequently giving four different reasons for doing so.
Ms Higgins said she was then raped by Mr Lehrmann in the ministerial office of former defence minister Linda Reynolds, an accusation Mr Lehrmann has consistently denied.
“It simply didn’t happen,” he told Bartlett.
He maintained that after arriving at Parliament House he and Ms Higgins went in separate directions and 40 minutes later he left without saying goodbye.
Ms Higgins was found by a parliament security guard conducting a welfare check later that morning.
The initial trial was abandoned in 2022 due to jury misconduct, with prosecutors dropping charges against Mr Lehrmann earlier this year, concerned over the impact a second trial could have on Ms Higgins’ mental health.
After Ms Higgins’ interview on The Project aired, Mr Lehrmann launched defamation proceedings against Channel 10, the ABC and News Life Media over their coverage.
He has since reached a settlement with News, while the other cases are ongoing.
He revealed on Sunday that he was “not ruling … out” defamation action against Ms Higgins.
“Beware the man who’s got nothing to lose,” he said.
“There’s a bit more to come yet.”