16 March 2022

Permanent stay application to be made in Brittany Higgins' alleged rape case

| Albert McKnight
Brittany Higgins

Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in Parliament House. Photo: Facebook.

The man accused of raping Brittany Higgins will apply to have a permanent stay of legal proceedings made in the case.

ACT Policing alleged 26-year-old Bruce Lehrmann had sexual intercourse with Ms Higgins without her consent at Parliament House on 23 March 2019.

He pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent and has been committed to stand trial in June 2022.

On Wednesday (16 March), barrister David Campbell SC, appearing for Mr Lehrmann, told the ACT Supreme Court he had instructions to make a stay application.

The application would be for a permanent stay of legal proceedings; or, in the alternative, a delay of the upcoming trial.

Mr Campbell said his team planned to contact media organisations and ask them to take down articles about the case and if they did not consent to that then he may seek a court order to make that happen.

He will also ask for an order that no more articles be published before the trial.

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Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said a hearing would take place for these matters on 1 April.

She also rejected an application from Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC to prohibit the publication of Ms Higgins’ name in regard to the upcoming stay application, which he asked for because he thought it would help ameliorate some of the concerns raised by the defence.

He had said the ongoing publication of the case increased the risk of prejudice to a fair trial.

However, Mr Campbell said raising the fact Mr Lehrmann’s defence team was concerned about the extent of pre-trial publicity could aid the administration of justice.

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While Chief Justice McCallum denied to make Mr Drumgold’s application, she said she did not want to be understood to be giving “free licence” to the media.

“The more this case is ventilated in public forums, the more likely it is the accused will not be able to have a fair trial,” she said.

She said the consequence of that could be a permanent or temporary stay of the prosecution.

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