Brittany Higgins will launch a compensation claim against former Morrison government minister Linda Reynolds – her boss at the time of her alleged rape – in coming weeks, as the former staffer calls for justice system reform.
In a statement, Reynolds said she was contacted by law firm Blumers in March of a “civil claim by Ms Higgins against me and other parties”, and that the claims are yet to be filed.
“Blumers advised me on Friday that their client intends to progress the civil claim this month,” Reynolds said.
Further details of the claim have not been released. The compensation claim is rumoured to be for $1m, according to a news.com.au report, with other respondents likely to be included.
However a spokesperson for Higgins, as well as Blumers declined to comment on the “confidential matter”.
On Sunday, Higgins said she had not fully understood Australia’s “asymmetrical criminal justice system” before she raised rape allegations against a colleague, and has called for reform.
The former Liberal party staffer alleged she was raped by a colleague in 2019 in a ministerial office in parliament house. Bruce Lehrmann has consistently maintained his innocence and said there was no sexual contact between the pair.
A trial testing those claims was aborted after a juror brought in research papers on the prevalence of false complaints during deliberations.
On Friday, the director of ACT public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold announced he would not be moving forward with a retrial, citing independent medical evidence that the risk to Higgins was too great.
“While the pursuit of justice is essential for my office and for the community in general, the safety of a complainant in a sexual assault matter must be paramount,” he said on Friday.
“During the investigation and trial, as a sexual assault complainant, Ms Higgins has faced a level of personal attack that I have not seen in over 20 years of doing this work.
“She’s done so with bravery, grace and dignity, and it is my hope that this will now stop.”
In her first public comments since Drumgold’s announcement, Higgins posted to her Instagram account the same statement she made outside court when the trial was aborted in late October. She said her experience “is the reality of how complainants in sexual assault cases are treated”.
“Their lives are torn apart, their families and friends called to the witness stand and the accused has the legal right to say absolutely nothing,” Higgins said in a statement posted to her Instagram account.
Higgins referred to the statistics showing how few sexual assault allegations made it to court, and how little of those resulted in convictions.
“That is our national shame,” she said, while thanking “the other women who came forward and shared their own experiences”.
“I believe you. You were with me every day I walked into that court room and faced him.”
Higgins thanked her family, friends and partner, as well as “the people of Australia who have rallied behind me”.
“Most importantly, I want to thank the workers in our mental healthcare system, without whom, I literally would not be here today.”
With no retrial, Lehrmann, who had pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual intercourse without consent, retains the presumption of innocence. With no prospect of a retrial, he remains innocent of any alleged rape of Higgins.
On Friday, Lehrmann was understood to be taking some time to process the latest developments. He has not made an official statement, but a friend told the Guardian he would be seeking advice on “legal remedies” in coming days.