Bruce Lehrmann trial: Lip reader provides evidence in defamation case

British lip-reading expert Tim Reedy has been grilled on his expert evidence that Bruce Lehrmann told Brittany Higgins that several drinks on a table on the night of her alleged rape were “all hers, all hers”.

Mr Reedy, who became profoundly deaf as a child, is a forensic lip reader who has previously worked for The Sunday Times to translate video of Royals speaking at funerals and weddings.

He explained he was “very certain that this is what was said” and the phrases were “more than 50 per cent” accurate.

Things got off to a rocky start however when he said “Pardon” to several questions from Ten’s barrister Matt Collins KC.

Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow also asked a series of questions over his claim that his client had said “Drink that all now”, and that Ms Higgins had said “I don’t want to”.

“What I wanted to ask you, consistent with what you say in your appendix about how you go about lip reading, you took into account the context, which included your assessment that the man was plying her with drinks, is that correct?” Mr Whybrow asked.

He then suggested Ms Higgins own evidence was at odds with claims Mr Lehrmann was plying her with alcohol.

He said that during this alleged exchange Ms Higgins head was side on and was not fully facing the camera.

His opinions have already been the subject of significant legal argument at the trial.

He told Justice Michael Lee that he had watched the video intently over a three-day period.

But he was cross-examined by Bruce Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow SC who asked him about his assumptions that the man was “plying” Ms Higgins with alcoholic drinks.

The lip reader said he was able to use Apple technology to “fine tune” the images and had “the luxury” of going back and watching the footage repeatedly.

At the conclusion of Mr Reedy’s evidence, Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow argued it should not be admitted as evidence.

He cited that fact that Mr Reedy had not previously given evidence to a court and that he was self-taught.

“Turning to the matters raised by Mr Whybrow, I think they can be dealt with quite shortly.

“I accept that lip reading is not perfect, but the guide for the admissibility of expert evidence is not a council of perfection. One has to take areas of specialised knowledge as one finds them.”

Justice Lee said that Mr Whybrow had tested the evidence during cross examination.

“I do not think I should exclude the evidence. But the matters raised by Mr Whybrow are best seen through the prism of the ultimate weight to be given to the material. Accordingly I accept the tender of the material.”

Network Ten barrister Matt Collins KC flagged that a British lip-reader would provide evidence during the opening days of the trial.

He put to Mr Lehrmann some of the lip-readers claims during cross examination.

“You said to her ‘Drink that all now’, Dr Collins suggested.

“I would just completely disagree with that,’’ Mr Lehrmann replied.

“She responded, ‘I don’t want to’?” Collins asked.

“I don’t recall that ever taking place, no,’’ Mr Lehrmann said.

“You were encouraging Ms Higgins to get drunk,” Ten’s barrister Matthew Collins KC said during cross-examination.

“No,” Lehrmann replied.

The former tobacco lobbyist also denied the barrister’s suggestion that he had ensured Ms Higgins had a glass of spirits in her hands at every moment.

In arranging the three drinks on the table, Dr Collins suggested that Lehrmann had said “all hers, all hers” to one of his colleagues.

“I disagree with that,” Lehrmann replied.

Justice Lee previously ruled that Ten could tender a report in which Mr Reedy expresses his opinion on words spoken by Lehrmann and Higgins at The Dock on March 22, 2019.

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