West Australian Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds has launched defamation action against Brittany Higgins’ partner David Sharaz, after vowing to vindicate her reputation following the former Liberal staffer’s rape allegations.
Reynolds’ lawyers at Perth firm Bennett have filed a writ in WA’s Supreme Court against Sharaz, claiming the former press gallery journalist posted two tweets last year that were falsely defamatory of her.
The former defence minister is now demanding damages, as well as aggravated damages, and wants an injunction preventing the material from ever seeing the light of day again.
With the trial of Higgins’ accused aborted, and a $3 million compensation settlement reached between Higgins and the federal government, Reynolds told WAtoday she was now in a position to vindicate her reputation.
“For the best part of the last two years I have been the subject of harassing and highly distressing trolling on social media regarding myself and my conduct in respect of events concerning Ms Brittany Higgins which has damaged my reputation and caused me, my family and my staff, considerable stress and anguish,” she said.
“In light of the conclusion of the criminal trial and the resolution of the civil action involving Ms Higgins and the Commonwealth, I am now at liberty to take steps to vindicate my reputation and provide some truth to the matters the subject of these trolling comments.
“I will not otherwise comment on the actions I have taken or that I intend to take.”
Reynolds also wants Sharaz to foot the bill for the legal action.
Law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler, which confirmed it was advising Sharaz, told this masthead it would not be commenting at this stage.
Higgins, a former employee of Reynolds, claimed fellow staffer Bruce Lehrmann raped her in the then-cabinet minister’s parliamentary office.
Lehrmann pleaded not guilty and denied ever having sex with Higgins.
The high-profile criminal trial was aborted due to juror misconduct, and the charge later dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
But Reynolds found herself in the firing line amid the fallout over the government’s response to Higgins’ claims.
The lawsuit comes just weeks after Reynolds took action against publishing house HarperCollins and journalist Aaron Patrick, demanding a book detailing recent political controversies including Higgins’ alleged rape be pulled from the shelves.
Reynolds is seeking aggravated damages over the contents of Patrick’s book, Ego: Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party’s Civil War, which she claims featured comments that were falsely defamatory of her and had caused her loss and damage.
The Australian Financial Review senior correspondent’s book focused primarily on former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s campaign against his successor, Scott Morrison, and party infighting.
But the book also pored over the details of several of the Liberal Party’s recent political controversies, including an entire chapter dedicated to Higgins’ rape allegations against Lehrmann.
This masthead understands Reynolds’ legal team intends to contest several passages in the book vigorously, including one which suggested Reynolds told Higgins that non-consensual sex was “the cost of being female”.
Source – https://www.theage.com.au/national/western-australia/liberal-senator-sues-higgins-partner-over-defamatory-tweets-20230127-p5cfyr.html