28 February 2023

Public hearings for inquiry into Bruce Lehrmann trial scheduled to start in April

| Albert McKnight
Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann outside ACT courts in October 2022

Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann, pictured in October 2022. Photos: Albert McKnight.

The independent inquiry into the trial of Bruce Lehrmann, who had been accused of raping Brittany Higgins, is currently scheduled to start its public hearings on 26 April.

The inquiry, which will examine the conduct of criminal justice agencies involved in the trial, had previously announced it will hold both secret and public hearings as part of its investigations.

According to a document on the inquiry’s website, the initial public hearing will be on 17 April when inquiry chairperson Walter Sofronoff KC will make introductory remarks on what will be covered.

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Applications can also be made for legal representatives to appear at the hearings.

Otherwise, the public hearings are planned to start on 26 April. However, the document notes, “If circumstances change, this date may be changed”.

It has been confirmed that the public hearings will be live-streamed via the inquiry’s website.

A call has already been made 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.

Submissions need to be made before 11 April. To do so, view the contact details on this website.

Mr Lehrmann had faced an ACT Supreme Court trial accused of raping Ms Higgins in Parliament House, but it ended in a mistrial due to juror misconduct and a retrial was abandoned out of concerns for Ms Higgins’ health.

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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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