While Brittany Higgins battled with herself over whether to report her alleged rape to police, those same police were battling unprecedented pushback from Parliament to release CCTV of the night of the alleged assault. As the second week concluded of the defamation trial of Bruce Lehrmann – the alleged perpetrator of that Parliament House sex assault – two women tasked with investigating and counselling the junior staff told their stories. Detective Senior Constable Sarah Harman was the police officer first tasked with the rape case in April 2019. And Catherine Cripps was a rape crisis counsellor who attended a “meet and greet“ with Ms Higgins and the Australian Federal Police on April 8, 2019, around two weeks after the alleged rape occurred. Ms Cripps gave evidence of the obvious distress – and conflict – she observed when speaking in 2019 and the months following. “It wasn’t so much reporting - she desperately did want to report it but she felt she wanted her job more,” she told the Federal Court. “Each time I saw her, it was about her distress at wanting two different things - she called it her ‘dream job’ and she was here for six months only and it was her dream job. “She told me that she knew if she brought this to anyone’s attention, she would lose her job. She was clear about that.” “There was a terrible conflict, a real tug of war.” And Detective Harman described her own back and forth with the authorities at Parliament House, after asking to be given a copy of the CCTV from the early hours of March 23, 2019. Police were told the footage could not be handed over after the election was called on April 11 and the government went into caretaker mode. “That was definitely a backwards and forwards throughout. And I did escalate that through my management,” she said. “I had not encountered that as a police officer - I had never encountered such pushback on obtaining CCTV before. And it was incredibly frustrating.” Detective Harman described how she had requested two things of Ms Higgins – copies of any photographs on her phone of the night of the alleged attack. No photos from that night were ever recovered. And that she retain and not clean the white dress she was wearing on the same night, in a bid to preserve “perishable evidence”. The trial had earlier been told that after Ms Higgins decided not to go ahead with a complaint in 2019, she packed the dress and brought it to Perth – where she wore it again in an effort to “reclaim it”. Months later, on October 20, the AFP received a media inquiry from the Canberra Times about the alleged rape - including a claim it might be referred to in Senate estimates hearings. It fell to Detective Harman to inform Ms Higgins – and when she did she became “hysterical”. “She was clearly crying during that phone conversation with me, hysterical and hung up abruptly,” Detective Harman said. “Obviously I had concerns about her welfare during that call because it was it was hysterical. I didn’t quite expect that reaction from her.” Another reaction came from outside court, as WA Senator Michaelia Cash demanded an explanation from the government about the $2.45m payment to Ms Higgins, revealed through the trial on Thursday. That payment was agreed after one day of mediation, and with no input allowed from Ms Cash or Senator Reynolds as to their version of events. “Let me be very, very clear. It is now up to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, to explain why his government paid out $2.4m while relying only on one side of the story.” “My understanding is that the settlement was made after one day of mediation,” Cash added. “That is highly unusual when you are stepping on the basis of one person’s versions of the event … the commonwealth did not admit liability.” The trial will continue next week, with Justice Michael Lee ruling late on Friday that Network Ten will be able to rely on the evidence of a British lip reader, who had attempted to decipher what was said in the bar in the hours before the alleged rape. UK-based, self-taught lip reader Tim Reedy, who has been deaf since age four, has examined silent CCTV footage of Ms Higgins, Lehrmann and others at The Dock and provided a transcript to the court about what was said.