Brittany Higgins "reaped the benefits" of airing her Parliament House rape allegation in the media before commencing a police case, a court has heard.
The woman told the Federal Court she did not know doing so would prevent politicians and others from shutting down questions about the story using investigation privileges, but that she "did enjoy it".
"It wasn't a pre-conceived thing ahead of time but I definitely reaped the benefits of it while it was happening for a week before my complaint was officially kicked off," she said.
Ms Higgins returned to the witness box on Friday for what would be her second full-day of evidence, during which she also denied trying to affect a federal election's result by publicly airing her claim.
The woman is under cross-examination, and may well be for another full day, as she testifies in the defamation proceedings Bruce Lehrmann has brought against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.
Mr Lehrmann is suing the parties over a The Project story, which aired Ms Higgins' allegation she was raped in March 2019 following a Civic night out.
The interview did not name the man but he claims being identified and defamed.
So far, the Federal Court trial has heard concessions from Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins they had each given mistaken or differing accounts relating to the alleged incident in the years since.
Those in the room and the thousands on the live stream watched on as the continuing cross-examination was noticeably less tense then the previous day, when Ms Higgins' allegation was called a "fabrication".
"I understand that is your assertion. It's insulting, but I understand it," the woman told barrister Steven Whybrow SC, representing Mr Lehrmann, during that particular exchange.
Later on Friday afternoon, on the trial's eighth day, Ms Higgins continued her duel with Mr Whybrow as he pressed her on the decision to broadcast her claim before officially re-opening her case with police.
Ms Higgins agreed it was her intention to "have the media play out first" and that she told police officers as much.
The court heard the woman later became aware of a "certain power" whereby a politician could decline to answer any questions regarding a matter "before the courts".
Because Ms Higgins had not yet given a record of interview when The Project was broadcast, this power could not be used "for about a week".
"I didn't necessarily know when I first spoke to the media," she said.
"But I definitely realised that during that week, when the police investigation hadn't officially started, that people were compelled to talk about it and weren't able to shut it down.
"I did realise it during that week it was a move and I didn't realise I'd accidentally made it."
Mr Whybrow said it was the woman's plan all along.
Earlier, Ms Higgins was asked about a timeline document she wrote and shared with journalists, and eventually police, in 2021.
"The reason you didn't comply with police's urging of you not to go to the media was because you wanted to try and affect the outcome of the upcoming election," Mr Whybrow put to the woman.
She responded: "No, no, I was a Liberal through and through since I was born."
Ms Higgins told the court she had no intention of having any sway on an election.
"But I did want to change the culture in Parliament House," she said.
"When I came forward I was angry at the way my rape had been handled but I didn't think anything I said would be consequential enough to impact the election.
"I didn't have that big of an ego to think I could change the course of an election."
The woman said she remained a Liberal, at that time, despite feeling hurt by the party.
"No longer, but was still for a really long time," she said.
Returning from the lunch break, Mr Whybrow played audio from a pre-production meeting Ms Higgins had with Ms Wilkinson, producer Angus Llewellyn and partner David Sharaz.
In the meeting, the four of them discussed timing the broadcast to match up with a sitting week and senate estimates.
"Are you seriously contending to his honour that one of your motivations for this story was not political damage to the Liberal party?" the barrister asked.
Ms Higgins responded: "It was not about the Liberal party, it was about women in politics."
Higgins felt 'unsupported' by bosses
In the timeline document were details about a meeting with Senator Linda Reynolds and chief of staff Fiona Brown. It differed from what Ms Higgins has told the court in her evidence.
The woman explained having to recount the meeting in greater detail in a court setting as opposed to hastily jotting down notes as she had for the document.
Mr Whybrow said Ms Higgins' evidence changed from her bosses being "supportive to, 'we want to know what's going on'."
"It's very important, to what I would suggest is your narrative, that Fiona Brown and Linda Reynolds are painted as being unsupportive of you, isn't it?" he said.
Ms Higgins disagreed and told the court she believed her chief of staff was "just following instructions" and she "never blamed her".
"Linda Reynolds avoided me and, in my view, did not meet her duty of care. I felt unsupported by both of them," she said.
While Ms Higgins told the court she did not consider the women as "the villains in this story", she felt they did not do right by her.
Mr Whybrow put to the woman, and she disagreed: "After this story came to air, you needed to feed the story you were treated badly in that office."
Ms Higgins also disagreed with the proposition that Ms Brown had supported her "every step of the way".
Distributed timeline named Bruce Lehrmann
The timeline document in question, the court heard, was "widely distributed to journalists" following Samantha Maiden's news.com.au story published the morning of The Project broadcast.
It was sent out to ward off the inundation of requests following the allegation going public.
Ms Higgins said the document was originally created for the police but she also gave it to Ten producers "on background, as a steer".
The woman walked back evidence she gave in her ACT criminal trial in October last year of not having sent or approved the sending of the timeline to multiple journalists.
READ MORE ABOUT THE TRIAL:
The court heard the document named Mr Lehrmann as the alleged perpetrator.
"Yeah, it was meant to be redacted. I made a mistake," Ms Higgins said.
"It was meant for me and the police, originally. It was never meant for journalists."
Mr Whybrow: "So, it was just an accidental oversight that this document, naming Mr Lehrmann as the perpetrator of your sexual assault, was distributed to a lot of the Canberra press gallery and wider?"
Ms Higgins: "Yes, it was a mistake."
Mr Lehrmann has always denied raping Ms Higgins and no findings have been made against him.
The defamation trial, which is expected to run for a month, continues.
- Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 6247 2525.