Bruce Lehrmann has revealed he “can’t remember” a coffee date with Brittany Higgins that he told Seven’s Spotlight program was evidence she had “concocted” a story that they never spoke after the alleged incident.
On Sunday night, Spotlight broadcast a recording of Ms Higgins provided under subpoena to the ACT Supreme Court.
In the recording, Ms Higgins stated that she didn’t speak to Mr Lehrmann in the office after the alleged incident.
“We did not talk. We didn’t look at each other, it was really weird. It was obviously really tense. But I was still in that shocked space. It’s kind of like the impact of a car crash and like the whole world kind of goes fuzzy,’’ Ms Higgins said in the recording.
The material was from the original interview with news.com.au and was never tendered in the criminal trial or the Sofronoff inquiry. How the Seven network obtained the leaked audio was not explained.
During Mr Lehrmann’s interview with Spotlight on Sunday, journalist Liam Bartlett asked him what had happened with the “coffee”.
“What’s the truth?” he asked.
Mr Lehrmann said that if what he had just been told was the case, the suggestion they did not speak was “entirely false”.
“And the AFP did find that we ended up having coffee on Monday,’’ Mr Lehrmann said.
Bartlett then interjected, “That’s black and white, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,’’ Mr Lehrmann replied.
“Because why would she say that we had a coffee? It doesn’t look good for her,’’ he added.
“So, she’s telling a fib,’’ Bartlett concluded.
However, what the Spotlight program did not report was that it was Ms Higgins who alerted the AFP to the coffee in her official police interview. But she claimed they did not speak.
“We didn’t discuss it. We didn’t talk about it. He didn’t seem ashamed or upset,’’ she told police.
Ms Higgins said today that Mr Lehrmann placed a coffee on her desk when buying them for the office on the Monday but did not speak to her.
During an interview with Sky News’ Sharri Markson on Monday, Mr Lehrmann was pressed on the truth before conceding he could not remember the coffee date.
“You said that you had coffee with Ms Brittany Higgins on the Monday after the night in question,’’ Markson said.
“So what happened? Where was that coffee?”
“Well through the course of the investigation and criminal trial it became known to us through the AFP that the coffee occurred,’’ Mr Lehrmann said.
Markson then asked Mr Lehrmann again whether the coffee happened or not.
“Oh, I can’t remember,’’ Mr Lehrmann said.
“All I can say is it became known to us that it did occur from the AFP. It was a common occurrence.”
Markson then asked him to clarify: “You can’t remember having coffee?”
“Not 100 per cent,’’ Mr Lehrmann replied.
When asked by police himself in 2021, Mr Lehrmann told them in his interview that he did not speak to Ms Higgins again after the night of the alleged incident.
He did not mention coffee at all.
Mr Lehrmann, who maintains his innocence, confirmed he plans to lodge a multimillion-dollar compensation claim against the ACT government over the trial, despite an official finding that the charge and the prosecution were properly brought.
The finding by inquiry chief Walter Sofronoff KC is not a reflection on the guilt or innocence of Mr Lehrmann, who was never convicted and remains an innocent man under the law.
It is a reflection of the former Queensland Supreme Court judge’s view that there was enough evidence to charge him and to prosecute him, despite the initial doubts of the ACT police.
Mr Lehrmann said he did not accept that finding.
“No I don’t,’’ he said.
Mr Lehrmann blamed the advent of the MeToo movement as a factor.
“It seems to be the case that with the current MeToo movement, these cases are being progressed anyway because prosecutors don’t have the balls to make a decision in the office because they don’t want the media scrutiny of dropping a charge,” he said.
News.com.au has contacted Barlett, Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins for comment.