Bruce Lehrmann has repeatedly affirmed his denial of raping Brittany Higgins amid a barrage of tense cross-examination questions probing what occurred inside Parliament House in March 2019.
The former Liberal party staffer is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson over a February 2021 story on The Project, which revealed Ms Higgins' claims of being sexually assaulted two years earlier.
Mr Lehrmann spent Friday, the third day of his defamation trial proceedings, battling with Michael Collins KC, representing Ten, from the Federal Court witness box.
'I did not have sex with her'
"I did not have sex with her," Mr Lehrmann said during cross-examination as the day neared its end.
It's the first time he has been directly pressed about the accusation in court after not giving evidence in his criminal trial.
"Did you enter the minister's office and find Ms Higgins either semi-conscious or passed out?" Dr Collins asked.
Mr Lehrmann responded: "No, I didn't enter the minister's office."
Dr Collins put to the man: "During part of the period between 1:48am and 2:30am on the 23rd of march, 2019, you had sexual intercourse with Ms Higgins on the couch in Minister [Linda] Reynold's office."
"I did not," Mr Lehrmann responded.
He denied a slate of further propositions put to him by the barrister, including that he was "rough and forceful" and several details about how he allegedly raped the woman.
"None of this happened, Dr Collins," Mr Lehrmann said.
Dr Collins asked: "Did you at any time seek Ms Higgins' consent to have sexual intercourse with her?"
"I didn't have sexual intercourse with her," Mr Lehrmann responded.
Mr Lehrmann also denied being "intimate" with and "pashing" Ms Higgins at Civic nightclub 88mph, the last stop before he and Ms Higgins took an Uber to Parliament House.
He conceded he could have engaged in "very minimal" flirting on the night, being "nothing beyond what would indicate an attraction".
But as he had in a television interview earlier this year, Mr Lehrmann denied kissing Ms Higgins at the nightclub in direct contradiction to evidence fellow staffer Lauren Gain gave during his criminal trial.
Mr Lehrmann said he stood by his accusation that Ms Gain had colluded with Ms Higgins to give false evidence.
"She sought to pervert the course of justice in your criminal trial?" Dr Collins asked.
Mr Lehrmann responded: "It would appear that way, yes."
'Trying to get Ms Higgins drunk'
Earlier, Mr Lehrmann denied trying to purposefully get Ms Higgins drunk on the night of March 22, 2021, hours prior to the alleged incident.
"You were trying to get Ms Higgins drunk," the barrister said after CCTV from The Dock in Kingston, where the pair had been drinking with colleagues, was played.
"You were ensuring she had a glass of spirit-based alcohol at every moment."
Mr Lehrmann responded: "No, Dr Collins."
He disagreed he had gestured towards Ms Higgins, as seen on audio-less video, saying three drinks were "all hers, all hers".
The court watched footage of the woman finishing a drink after speaking with Mr Lehrmann and before the group left the bar.
"You said to her, 'Drink that all now'," Dr Collins said.
Mr Lehrmann responded: "I would completely disagree with that."
"She said, 'I don't want to'. You said, 'Drink it all, you can't leave that. Come on, you're not leaving that'," Dr Collins put to the witness.
After the woman had "skolled" her drink, the barrister then proposed Mr Lehrmann said: "Well done, what a surprise."
"No, I disagree with that," Mr Lehrmann said, laughing.
Mr Lehrmann disagreed with several more propositions, including that he had "kept an eye" on Ms Higgins on the night in question, and he had monitored her drinking.
'Wrong' answer walked back
The man previously told the court he had not bought Ms Higgins any drinks on the night and only himself drank a "couple of rounds" with another man.
However, on Friday, he walked back that answer and admitted he did in fact recall purchasing the woman a drink, as was seen on CCTV.
"That answer was false," Dr Collins said.
Mr Lehrmann responded: "Yes, and I apologise. I was wrong.
"I was quite confused. There's a lot of information passing in this matter and it does affect my recall."
Mr Lehrmann, who requested a short break while giving evidence and eventually to finish the court day early, described the proceedings as "quite stressful".
Dr Collins questioned Mr Lehrmann as to when he knew he had mistakenly told police he did not have alcohol in his office, despite using that as one excuse for the after-hours visit at the centre of the case.
Mr Lehrmann said he could not recall then-Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC's closing address, which had described Mr Lehrmann as being inconsistent on the topic of alcohol.
"I didn't pay much attention to Mr Drumgold," Mr Lehrmann said.
"Not really, no," he then responded if he paid attention when his police interview was addressed in the trial summary of Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.
Dr Collins asked the man if he had taken his criminal trial seriously.
"I certainly did but by that point I had serious concerns about the conduct of it," he responded.
He then told the court he disagreed the judge's summary had been accurate.
Dr Collins asked: "Which part was inaccurate, Mr Lehrmann?"
Mr Lehrmann responded. "I hold serious concerns about the way she summarised that case."
The Project interview did not name Mr Lehrmann as the person accused of sexually assaulting Ms Higgins at Parliament House in 2019 but the law student says he was identified by multiple details.
The defamation trial is expected to run until mid-December, with counsel for Ms Wilkinson and Ten, in part, aiming to prove the rape allegation is "substantially true".
Mr Lehrmann has always denied raping Ms Higgins at Parliament House in 2019, when the pair worked as staffers for senator Linda Reynolds.
No findings have been made against him.
The trial continues.
- Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 6247 2525.