A barrister for the man charged with raping Brittany Higgins has accused her of being "prepared to say anything" that suits her, claiming "she doesn't know what happened".
Defence counsel Steven Whybrow began his closing address in the ACT Supreme Court jury trial of Bruce Lehrmann on Tuesday, quoting Ms Higgins when she told police she had "pieced together" the morning in question because her memory was "not the best".
Lehrmann, 27, denies raping Ms Higgins on a couch in the ministerial office of Linda Reynolds when the pair were staffers for the Liberal senator in March 2019.
He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of engaging in sexual intercourse without consent, rejecting claims any sexual activity occurred in the senator's office when he and Ms Higgins attended Parliament House early one morning after "a drunken night out".
On Tuesday, Mr Whybrow said jurors might find Ms Higgins' fear of losing her "dream job" at parliament had provided her with a "compelling" motive to fabricate the rape allegation.
He suggested the catalyst for a false claim had come three days after the alleged rape, when Ms Higgins was informed a security guard had seen her, passed out and naked, in Senator Reynolds' office in the early hours of the morning in question.
Mr Whybrow argued there had been no allusion to an alleged sexual assault prior to Ms Higgins being made aware of this "humiliating, embarrassing" situation, noting she had sent Lehrmann "a happy email" just before she was asked to explain the security breach.
He claimed Ms Higgins was subsequently "prepared to say anything" to make people believe Lehrmann had raped her, telling jurors it was "not good for your CV" if it emerged you had passed out at Parliament House after getting "hammered" on a night out.
Mr Whybrow subsequently sought to cast doubt on the truthfulness of Ms Higgins' evidence by revisiting topics on which he previously cross-examined her.
These included what had happened to the dress Ms Higgins wore on the night out, an occasion on which she claimed to have been experiencing a panic attack when she was in fact at lunch, and the alleged victim having misled a former boyfriend about visiting a doctor.
"She is someone who is unreliable, who says things to suit her," Mr Whybrow told jurors.
The defence barrister also told jurors Ms Higgins had, during her testimony, resorted to "a fallback position" of speaking about being traumatised "every time the going gets tough".
He accordingly disagreed with prosecutor Shane Drumgold SC's description of Ms Higgins as "an inherently credible witness", and branded the case against his client "poor".
Mr Whybrow told jurors the case was so weak Mr Drumgold had focused his closing address on "minute, minuscule" criticisms of Lehrmann.
He also hit back against Mr Drumgold's closing submission that Ms Higgins was "right to be scared" of reporting the alleged rape because "strong political forces" were at play.
Mr Whybrow noted suggestions of a politically motivated plot to suppress the alleged rape had been put to Senator Reynolds and another of Ms Higgins' former employers, Senator Michaelia Cash, on Monday. Both strongly denied any such scheme had occurred.
"Where is the evidence that justifies that [Ms Higgins] had a right to be scared and there were political forces at play?" Mr Whybrow asked.
The defence barrister is set to continue his closing address on Wednesday morning.
MORE COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL:
- Higgins 'right to be scared' of 'strong political forces': prosecutor
- Senator accused of trying to 'coach' defence barrister's cross-examination of Higgins
- 'Political suicide': Senator denies pretending not to know about alleged rape
- 'Nothing was fine after what you did': Higgins confronts alleged rapist, denies being 'monster'
- Lehrmann 'in a hurry to get out' after alleged rape: parliament security
- 'My world has been rocked': Lehrmann tells police of 'Bruce the rapist' impersonator
- 'Broken, shattered person': Light in Higgins 'turned off' after alleged rape
- 'Bruce got quite handsy': What Higgins told parliament police after alleged rape
- Higgins 'unavailable' to continue cross-examination in rape trial, jury told
- Higgins had planned book before being 'blown away' by $325k offer, court hears
- 'So incorrect': Higgins hits back at 'deeply insulting' cross-examination
- 'I wanted her out': Higgins denies attempt to hide evidence, admits 'scrubbing' phone
- Higgins secretly recorded 'weirdest phone call' with Cash after quitting
- 'It may sound ridiculous': Higgins admits 'mistake' about 'weird anchor' dress
- Meeting with minister at site of alleged rape felt like 'scare tactic': Higgins
- 'Like this weird anchor': Higgins kept dress under bed while weighing up action
- Higgins 'rebuffed kiss' from accused rapist before allegedly being 'trapped'
- Public 'sold a pup' with 'unstoppable snowball' story of alleged Higgins rape