Brittany Higgins’ partner has lashed out at her former employer Linda Reynolds, accusing her of discussing a confidential $3 million lawsuit, as signs emerge the Commonwealth is open to settling the claim.
Lawyers acting for Ms Higgins told the Commonwealth they were pressing ahead with the claim on Friday for sexual harassment, sex discrimination, negligence and victimisation.
It’s believed the claim includes $2.5 million for future economic loss, past economic loss, future assistance with at-home care, and past and future out-of-pocket expenses of a further $150,000.
The three respondents named in the legal correspondence are Senator Reynolds, who was Ms Higgins’ direct employer at the time she was found in the ministerial suite by a security guard in 2019, Liberal frontbencher Michaelia Cash, and the Commonwealth, which is tight-lipped over the negotiations.
News.com.au revealed over the weekend that Ms Higgins’ legal team had entered negotiations over a bombshell multimillion-dollar personal injury claim and that Senator Reynolds planned to fight it.
Mediation talks were set to commence on December 13.
But subsequent reports that the multimillion-dollar claim could climb as high as $3 million has prompted claims confidential legal correspondence has been leaked.
“First Linda sent her husband in to watch (an alleged) victim’s cross-examination and was texting the defence team tips,’’ David Sharaz tweeted.
“Now she’s leaking privileged information to the paper while Britt’s fragile in a clinic.
“When will the bullying end @lindareynoldswa?”
During the trial, Senator Reynolds gave dramatic evidence where she confirmed she had been texting defence lawyer Steve Whybrow and that her partner was in court watching the trial.
She said he wasn’t telling her what was happening in the case.
The compo claim follows the decision of prosecutors in the ACT dropping the charge against former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann.
Mr Lehrmann, who is not a party to the civil compensation claim, maintained his innocence in the criminal trial and was never convicted of a crime.
Any cash settlement would be negotiated by the Department of Finance at arms length from Finance Minister Katy Gallagher.
During the first trial, the ACT Supreme Court heard evidence that Ms Higgins’s partner, David Sharaz, was recorded in subpoenaed audio describing Senator Gallagher as a “friend” on the Labor side.
In the discussions with The Project, Mr Sharaz was recorded stating before the story was published that Senator Gallagher would “probe and continue it going”.
“So sitting week, story comes out, they have to answer questions in question time, it’s a mess for them,” he said.
Mr Lehrmann, who was originally charged over her alleged rape before the case was dropped, is also considering civil remedies for a cash payout, with his legal team considering a Comcare claim, defamation action against media outlets and unfair dismissal from the jobs he lost after the allegations emerged.
Senator Reynolds publicly confirmed over the weekend she was being sued by Ms Higgins, but not the cash amount or the breakdown of damages claimed.
“I confirm that I was advised in March this year by Blumers, who act for Brittany Higgins, of a civil claim by Ms Higgins against me and other parties,” Senator Reynolds said on Sunday.
“However, proceedings are yet to be filed. Blumers advised me yesterday that their client intends to progress the civil claim this month.”
The Australian Financial Review reports today that Senator Cash is open to settling the matter to resolve it.
But an official claim has not been filed while parties prepare to enter into mediation talks.
Ms Higgins is being represented in the personal injury matter by Noor Blumer, a founding partner of Blumers Lawyers who has practised as a personal injury lawyer since 1992.
Ms Blumer declined to comment on the matter or any mediation talks when contacted.
News of the compensation claim follows shock revelations over the weekend that police “unlawfully” sent Ms Higgins private counselling notes to Mr Lehrmann’s original defence team – who insisted they didn’t open it.
Further revelations that police held concerns there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr Lehrmann were also leaked to The Weekend Australian, prompting the prosecutor Shane Drumgold to raise concerns that this was – potentially – another unlawful disclosure.
Last year, Senator Reynolds offered a confidential defamation settlement to Ms Higgins after it emerged she had privately referred to her as a “lying cow”.
The money was donated to charity.
Story Credit: news.com.au