Brittany Higgins has confirmed she personally received $1.9 million from a Commonwealth Government settlement following her alleged Parliament House rape.
"Yes, I received money from the Commonwealth. They came to an agreement that a failure of a duty of care was made and they did pay me," she told the Federal Court on Tuesday.
In February 2021, Ms Higgins publicly aired her allegation of being raped to Lisa Wilkinson on a broadcast of The Project.
As Ms Higgins' almost third full day of being cross-examined by barrister Steven Whybrow SC came close to its end, she was asked about her settlement figure.
Mr Whybrow said it was "widely reported" Ms Higgins had received "over $2 million" as a result of mediation with the government, whom she had intended to sue.
The revelation that she personally received $1.9 million came out in open court after Justice Michael Lee denied repeated objections as to the question's relevance.
"What was agreed on on paper and what I received were two different things," Ms Higgins said.
The court heard Ms Higgins did not know the entirety of what was paid "to stop you bringing a claim for personal injury against the Commonwealth" but she thought it was about $2.3 million.
She could not tell the judge what her legal costs or taxes on the amount were.
"Was it your understanding that part of the claim that was proposed to be made on behalf of your lawyers was that you would not be able to work again, effectively for the rest of your life?" Mr Whybrow asked.
Ms Higgins responded: "I believe it was 40 years."
The judge asked Ms Higgins if the government had made an "admission of liability".
"I believe so but you might have to double check with them," Ms Higgins answered, before revealing she came close to filing her own civil action against Mr Lehrmann.
Retrial 'blow up' accusation
Ms Higgins delivered a prepared statement to media outside the ACT courts in October 2022 following a jury's dismissal in her criminal trial.
In the speech, Ms Higgins said her alleged perpetrator had been afforded the chance to remain silent and she wrongly claimed Mr Lehrmann had not handed over his data to police.
Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Whybrow quizzed Ms Higgins on the intent of this statement, with a retrial looming.
"Can I suggest that when you gave that speech, it was designed to blow up a retrial?" Mr Whybrow put to the witness.
She responded: "Wow. Ah, no. Not at all."
The barrister said Ms Higgins made it clear her former colleague should not have a presumption of innocence, and she wanted to avoid a second trial and the risk of a jury finding Mr Lehrmann not guilty.
"I don't think he had a right to my body but here we are," she said.
"I'd just gone through a criminal trial, I wasn't hiding from anyone."
'Are you kidding?'
On Tuesday morning, Ms Higgins was questioned about her claimed "10 out of 10" drunkenness in the early hours of March 23, 2019.
"We've seen you walk though the metal detector twice in high heels in a straight line," Mr Whybrow said after the court watched footage of Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann arriving at Parliament House.
"You agree there doesn't appear to be any staggering or swerving in your gait?"
Unable to control the emotion in her voice, Ms Higgins responded: "[I} couldn't put on my shoes straight after this, you going to show that?"
The court has previously heard on multiple occasions from Ms Higgins that she was extremely intoxicated on the night and she considered herself perhaps the most drunk she had ever been.
Mr Lehrmann denies observing his then-colleague to be overly drunk.
"Are you kidding? Sorry, no I was very drunk," Ms Higgins responded through tears after the barrister put to her she had lied in exaggerating her level of intoxication.
CCTV shows Ms Higgins skipping away from the security entrance holding her shoes.
"You don't look 10 out of 10 drunk or in distress at that point," Mr Whybrow put to the witness.
She responded: "I hadn't been raped yet but I was skipping in Parliament with no shoes on. So, it indicates someone is pretty drunk."
Mr Whybrow accused Ms Higgins of deleting text message exchanges with a number of people whose names have become familiar throughout the trial.
"I'm suggesting you systematically went through and deleted communications you had with people who are witnesses and whose communications might have undone what you were saying to police and The Project," Mr Whybrow said.
The court heard Ms Higgins had deleted messages with her housemate, a Parliament House security guard she messaged on the morning of the alleged rape to cancel a date, and her Bumble date from the night in question.
Ms Higgins denied any malice, said she preferred to keep her inboxes clean and that she had no intention of keeping contact with the two men.
Ms Higgins did admit purposefully deleting one photo she was "really ashamed of" before handing her phone to police.
The photo, she told the court, was of her wearing a "make America great again" hat someone had placed on her head.
Ms Higgins said she "would have loved" to have retained messages sent to former staffer colleagues Lauren Gain and Nicky Hamer.
"If anything, they would have helped me. So, I wish they were in existence," Ms Higgins said.
MORE TRIAL COVERAGE:
The court also heard communications with senators Michaelia Cash and Linda Reynolds, Ms Higgins' former parliamentary bosses, were deleted "much later down the track".
However, Ms Higgins again said this had not been "malicious".
She attributed much of the lost communication to having five phones in five years and different iCloud accounts.
"Things just got lost," Ms Higgins said.
"I wasn't very good with maintaining my data over this time."
Ms Higgins defended having "accidentally" deleted a 2019 message to former partner Ben Dillaway, telling him she was not planning to pursue a criminal charge and "it's all beyond strange".
While Mr Whybrow said the text was intentionally deleted because it contradicting her account to The Project, Ms Higgins said she was glad it existed because "it actually corroborates my stuff".
How long will cross-examination last?
Mr Whybrow was previously warned Tuesday would be his last chance to press and make attempts to discredit Ms Higgins under questioning after concerns were expressed by counsel for Ten and Ms Wilkinson.
That time constraint appeared to change at the new day's start.
"Although it is fair to say [the cross-examination] has not moved along at the speed of summer lightning, this is not entirely due to the mode of questioning adopted by the cross-examiner, and I do not consider the cross-examination has strayed beyond proper limits," Justice Lee said.
The judge would later tell Ms Higgins she could shorten her time in the witness box if she listened to counsel questions, answered them carefully and didn't "make speeches".
But as the day continued, Justice Lee also made clear Mr Whybrow's leash was not endless.
At one stage, he hurried along the barrister because a line of questioning "really does seem at the margin of things".
And the judge's patience only appeared to wear thinner as the day progressed, asking Mr Whybrow if it was necessary to go through a series of texts "seriatim", or point by point.
"I'm wondering if we can shortcut this?," Justice Lee asked.
READ MORE ABOUT THE TRIAL:
Later again, the live stream camera, which should have been pointed at the witness box, inadvertently recorded Justice Lee strenuously rubbing his forehead with his eyes closed.
"I think we've been through this a number of times," the judge said on this occasion.
No findings have been made against Mr Lehrmann, who has always denied raping Ms Higgins in March 2019 when the pair worked for the then-defence industry minister. The charge of engaging in sexual intercourse without consent levelled at him was dropped.
- Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 6247 2525.