23 February 2023

Inquiry into Bruce Lehrmann trial will hold both secret and public hearings

| Albert McKnight
Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann walking to court in different photographs

Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann arrive at the ACT Supreme Court during the now-abandoned trial of Mr Lehrmann. Photos: Michelle Kroll/Albert McKnight.

The inquiry into the trial of Bruce Lehrmann, who had been accused of raping Brittany Higgins in Parliament House, will hold both secret and public hearings as part of its investigations.

The ACT Government has released more details about the independent Board of Inquiry, saying it will specifically examine the conduct of criminal justice agencies involved in the trial.

“Recent public reporting and commentary in relation to the matter of R v Lehrmann raise issues that may have wider implications for the prosecution of criminal matters in the Territory,” a government said.

It added that public and private hearings will be held and the inquiry is expected to report to Chief Minister Andrew Barr in June 2023.

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The government is also appealing for “anyone with information” that could help the inquiry investigate the conduct of criminal justice agencies to make submissions, including lawyers, public servants, police, journalists and members of the public.

The ACT Supreme Court trial of Mr Lehrmann ended in a mistrial due to juror misconduct late last year and a retrial was abandoned out of concerns for Ms Higgins’ health.

Mr Lehrmann denied the allegations and no findings were made against him.

After the trial, a letter was obtained by the media sent from Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC to the ACT’s top police officer detailing his “serious concerns” over his perceived “clear investigator interference in the criminal justice process” in the matter.

It was later announced that the conduct of police officers, the DPP and the Victims of Crime Commissioner will be examined in the inquiry.

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Former Queensland Solicitor-General and retired judge of the Queensland Supreme Court Walter Sofronoff KC will run the inquiry.

A public directions hearing will be held in April. Details will be released in the future.

To make a submission for the inquiry, view the contact details on this website. Submissions close on 11 April.

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