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Police ‘passionately’ tried to stop Lehrmann rape case

An inquiry into the prosecution of Bruce Lehrmann has heard ACT police tried to convince the DPP not to charge him with sexual assault.

BRUCE LEHRMANN TRIAL INQUIRY ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold will give a third day of evidence to the inquiry.
May 10, 2023
By Alex Mitchell
10 May 2023

Police investigating rape claims against former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann tried to convince the ACT’s top prosecutor not to charge him via a series of “gotcha moments”.

ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold will expand on this claim during his third day of evidence to an independent inquiry into how the territory’s justice system handled rape allegations made by Mr Lehrmann’s ex-colleague Brittany Higgins.

On Tuesday he detailed a series of “very unusual” meetings with ACT Police in 2021, where he had wondered if a view Mr Lehrmann should not be charged had influenced their investigation.

“I perceived it as ‘we’ve got this investigation, here’s a couple of gotcha points, of course you’ll agree with us the investigation shouldn’t continue’,” Mr Drumgold said.

“I was very taken aback by the nature of that. It was not the meeting I thought I was going to.”

Mr Drumgold added police opposition to charging Mr Lehrmann seemed to be “passionately held”.

“The pieces of evidence … were being presented to me as ‘gotcha’ moments … I thought I was at a meeting to guide the direction of an investigation, and I was kind of reading I was being convinced I should agree the investigation should be stopped,” he said.

“Weaknesses are not a problem, but they just appeared to me that they were rather passionately held.”

The ACT government established the inquiry after accusations by police and prosecutors about each other’s conduct during the case.

Former Queensland solicitor-general Walter Sofronoff is leading the inquiry which is examining how territory police, prosecutors and a victim support service handled Ms Higgins’ allegations.

Mr Lehrmann faced an ACT Supreme Court trial in October 2022 but juror misconduct meant a verdict was not reached.

Prosecutors later dropped the charge against Mr Lehrmann because of concerns about the impact a second trial would have on Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Mr Lehrmann denies raping Ms Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.

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