Brittany Higgins intends to give evidence in the trial against Bruce Lehrmann for alleged sexual assault, in addition to evidence of her complaints to police and a reporter.
At a pretrial hearing on Wednesday, the director of public prosecutions outlined the evidence will include two recordings of Higgins making her complaint to police, one police interview with Lehrmann, and audio and CCTV recording including at Parliament House.
Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Higgins, the former Liberal staffer, at Parliament House in Canberra in 2019. The case goes to trial on 4 October for up to seven weeks of hearings.
Higgins will be absent in a remote location while her evidence in chief interviews with police are played, as required by legislation.
The DPP Shane Drumgold revealed on Wednesday Higgins intends to give additional evidence to the court, although it is still unclear whether she wishes to do this in person or remotely. He foreshadowed that an application will be made for Higgins to have a second support person.
Lehrmann’s counsel queried whether a six-hour interview Higgins recorded with The Project and the subsequent one-hour interview put to air would form part of the crown’s case.
Drumgold replied he doesn’t “have any legal basis to play them”, confirming the crown will not rely on them as “complaint evidence”, which consists of a complainant’s statements after an alleged event used to bolster their credibility that the event occurred.
Drumgold said the crown would call complaint evidence from a journalist, an apparent reference to Lisa Wilkinson and her initial conversation with Higgins which led to the six-hour meeting and TV interview.
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In June the chief justice, Lucy McCallum, ruled “regrettably and with gritted teeth” to vacate the trial, which was set to begin in late June, in part due to comments made by Wilkinson while accepting a Logie for her work on the Higgins story and a subsequent interview with broadcasters Amanda Keller and Brendan Jones.
McCallum had noted that Wilkinson was aware when she gave the speech that she would be a witness.
On Wednesday McCallum told Lehrmann’s team she needed to know if there would be any objection to the complaint evidence before empanelment of the jury because she needs “to give information to the whole panel, to ensure anyone who can’t be impartial won’t be empaneled”.
Drumgold also revealed he will apply for a closed court for the evidence of two people associated with parliament security.
He said the DPP intended to edit out two questions and answers from an interview with Lehrmann that are inadmissible because they effectively reversed the onus of proof by asking him “can you offer me an explanation as to why … ”.
The Australian federal police is considering whether to claim privilege over documents Lehrmann’s legal team say were prepared for the purpose of investigating the case, not to provide legal advice.
The matter will be relisted