‘Strong political forces at play’ claim in Parliament House rape trial

The prosecution is closing its case against the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins, telling the jury that yesterday’s trial testimony from former minister Linda Reynolds made it “abundantly clear” that Higgins was “in the middle of strong political forces”.

Brittany Higgins and partner David Sharaz. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Brittany Higgins and partner David Sharaz. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Bruce Lehrmann is being tried in the ACT Supreme Court after he pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.

Higgins alleges the assault took place inside the office of former cabinet minister Linda Reynolds, for whom she and Lerhmann worked as staffers.

Prosecutor Shane Drumgold is summing up the case in his closing argument, telling the jury it was not about the culture inside Parliament House or the Me Too movement.

He said the case was about what happened on a couch inside a minister’s office in the early hours of Saturday, March 23, 2019.

Drumgold said the defence has argued that Higgins made up a complaint to keep her staffer job in Senator Reynolds’ office but pointed out she did not reapply for that job after the election.

He told the jury there were strong political forces at play in the period immediately after the alleged events, through the 2019 election and afterwards.

“It’s abundantly clear from the actions of Senator Reynolds during this trial that those political forces were still a factor,” he said on Tuesday.

Drumgold also said Higgins was right to be scared when she was considering making a police complaint.

“It’s clear that this is a young lady in the middle of strong political forces,” he said.

“We say she was right to be scared, she was right to be cautious and she was right to move slowly and carefully.”

On Monday, Reynolds was accused of trying to interfere in the trial by requesting a copy of Higgins’ transcript of evidence and texting suggestions to the defence.

Reynolds said she was not seeking to coach the cross-examination of her former staffer and was “curious” about what had been said in court.

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Advised by her lawyer that it was “inappropriate” to access a transcript, Reynolds did not receive one.

Drumgold suggested Reynolds was politically invested in the case.

He put to Reynolds that if she was motivated enough to attempt to interfere when there was not an election on the horizon, her dominant concern when Higgins first raised the complaint in 2019 would have been the impending election.

“Absolutely not. I categorically and utterly reject that assertion,” Reynolds said.

The senator also denied knowing details of Higgins’ allegation, saying she only knew about the security breach resulting from the two staffers accessing the ministerial suite after hours.

Higgins has previously told the court she had conversations with  Reynolds and later Senator Michaelia Cash about her alleged rape.

Closing arguments are continuing.

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