Notes of the meeting in which former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann was told by his then-employer that he was the person accused of raping Brittany Higgins at Parliament House say he expressed shock and said he did not think media reports were referring to him.
- Bruce Lehrmann told employer he didn’t think he was the person Brittany Higgins referred to in initial interviews about her alleged rape
- The Federal Court is considering whether to grant Mr Lehrmann an extension to lodge defamation action against two media organisations
- Mr Lehrmann’s trial over the alleged rape was abandoned and there have been no findings against him
The notes, released by the Federal Court today, say Mr Lehrman’s former employer, British American Tobacco (BAT), told him it had received a call from a journalist alleging he was the person referred to in a News Corp story published earlier that day.
Mr Lehrmann was not named in the news story, published on February 15, 2021, by journalist Samantha Maiden, nor in a TV interview that night on Network Ten’s The Project, conducted by Lisa Wilkinson.
The BAT meeting notes were included in a raft of documents released by the court, which is considering whether to grant Mr Lehrmann an extension of time to lodge defamation action against Network Ten, News Life Media and the two journalists.
The action was lodged after Mr Lehrmann’s criminal trial on a charge of rape was abandoned.
There have been no findings against him, and he maintains his innocence.
At the time the interviews were made public in early 2021, Mr Lehrmann was working for BAT.
A senior staff member recorded the notes as dot points, which say Mr Lehrmann “said that he had read the story in media that morning but did not have any thought that he could have been the person involved”.
“He had no recollection of the story as outlined in the media,” the staff member wrote.
“Bruce said that it was wrong that he was hearing these allegations from me for the first time rather than anyone else.”
The notes also say Mr Lehrmann said he thought the allegations were defamatory.
The person taking the notes wrote that Mr Lehrmann was advised to get a lawyer and was suspended on full pay, before being escorted from the workplace.
Bruce Lehrmann told police he received anonymous email titled ‘Coming for you’
The newly released court documents also include an email that Mr Lehrmann forwarded to police, titled: “Coming for you.”
Police had interviewed Mr Lehrmann two days before he forwarded the email, which was sent on January 25, 2021 — before the interviews aired and Brittany Higgins’s allegations became public.
The email was anonymous — sent from an address including the name “Bruce Lehrmann”, but which Mr Lehrmann said was not his — and read:
“I want you to have a think about what you did and what might be around the corner for you.
“How many people know what you did, and how many did you tell. How many cameras are there in Parliament House and how many people tracked down the vision.
“Think about it. Two former staffers from Aussies, now security guards.
“It’s going to be a magical 2021.”
Mr Lehrmann told police he also received a second anonymous email titled: “Truth will come out.”
It is not known when the court will decide whether to allow an extension of time to clear the way for the defamation action.