Latest News

Why Does It Matter If Brittany Higgins Wore A Carla Zampatti Jacket?

In short: it doesn't.
Loading the player...

The trial might be over but Brittany Higgins is stuck on the witness stand—and this time, it’s her clothing that’s been cross-examined. 

The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen is behind a piece called ‘Doubts, devastation and a designer coat: the story you haven’t heard’, inspecting every detail of the Brittany Higgins saga except, it seems, the experience of the woman at the centre of it. 

It begins by talking about the Carla Zampatti jacket Higgins wore the night she alleges she was raped by Bruce Lehrmann, with Albrechten writing “the jacket is emblematic of the doubts and disagreements about that night and what happened after.”

Bruce Lehrmann has always maintained his innocence, and denies ever having sex with Higgins. He was charged in September 2021 but the trial ended in a mistrial due to juror misconduct. The charge against Mr Lehrmann was dropped and there have been no findings against him. 

As the article progresses, it becomes clear the story we’re reading is not Higgins but Former Liberal Senator Linda ReynoldsHiggins’ employer at the time of her alleged rape. 

While there’s no doubt that Reynolds should also be allowed to tell her story, the piece only does so by charging Higgins as guilty—and all without giving the 29-year-old the right to respond to those allegations. 

But it all comes back to Higgins’ jacket. 

Yes, you heard that right, in 2023 we’re still talking about ‘what she was wearing’. 

According to The Australian, the jacket Higgins’ wore on the night of her alleged rape “defines the gaping divide between the public’s perception of the Higgins saga and what others knew.” 

In other words, the outlet believes that Higgins’ choice of jacket is the reason that Australia shouldn’t trust her story. 

Why? Well The Australian places particular focus on the piece of clothing being a Carla Zampatti jacket, meaning a designer jacket.

While it’s hard to imagine how the jacketlet alone the brand of jacket—is at all relevant to a woman’s rape trial, the outlet’s emphasis on the clothing item being expensive feels a little problematic. 

It seems to suggest, as some people have pointed out on Twitter, that wearing a designer jacket means that you’re less deserving of compensation.

But it also seems to imply that Higgins’ story of finding the jacket in a goodwill box in Linda Reynold’s ministerial suite isn’t necessarily true.

“Members of Reynolds’ office have told The Weekend Australian that there was no goodwill bin or box or pile of clothes for charity in Reynolds’ ministerial suite. There was just a wardrobe full of the minister’s jackets,” Albrechtson writes. “Including the Zampatti.” 

But does it really matter where Higgins found the jacket? Whether it was found in a box or a wardrobe, it’s not really relevant to any of the alleged events later that night.

And The Australian’s trial of Brittany Higgins doesn’t stop there. The piece also targets the funds that Higgins received from the defamation settlement with Linda Reynolds, with Albrechten writing that Higgins “planned” to donate the $11,000 payout.

Higgins was quick to correct the record, saying on Twitter she’d donated the funds “the moment they were received by my lawyer in 2021”, sharing a receipt from the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.

“I have publicly accepted a number of apologies made by Senator Reynolds offered in the wake of my allegations becoming public—both in the Senate and through the media in 2021,” Higgins said in a statement to marie claire Australia.

“I have accepted an additional apology by Senator Reynolds following an incident where she publicly defamed me by likening me to a barnyard animal.

“I’ve been through three reviews during the Morrison Government tenure, a criminal trial which was aborted due to juror misconduct, a mediation process with the Commonwealth and now I’m engaging with an independent enquiry into the criminal trial.

“The facts have been well established. Any revisionist history offered by my former employer, Senator Reynolds at this time is deeply hurtful and needlessly cruel.”  

Higgins has been through enough, she doesn’t need to continuously be trialled by the Australian media—and the Carla Zampatti jacket doesn’t either. 

Related stories