Australia

Police conduct in Bruce Lehrmann trial to be examined by integrity agency

Highlights
  • Police will be investigated for their handling of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation against Bruce Lehrmann.
  • ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold raised concerns about “political and police conduct” in the case.
  • Mr Lerhmann is not facing charges, and has always denied the allegations.
This article contains references to sexual assault.
The Commonwealth law enforcement integrity agency will investigate how police handled
The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold raised concerns about “political and police conduct” in the case of former political staffer Bruce Lehrmann, who Ms Higgins alleged raped her in Parliament House in 2019.
The criminal trial of Mr Lehrmann ended last month when the jury was dismissed. Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty, and has always denied the allegations.

ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury confirmed the matter had been referred to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity for further investigation.

“I am aware the matter has been referred to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. As such, it is not appropriate to comment further at this time,” he said in a statement.

Police union calls for judicial inquiry into Lehrmann trial

The police union on Thursday responded to the allegations raised by Mr Drumgold.
In a statement, Australian Federal Police Association president Alex Caruana said the union “wholeheartedly” supported a judicial inquiry into Mr Lehrmann’s trial.
He said the allegations made by Mr Drumgold have not been tested and are the subject of an internal investigation.
He condemned the criticisms of police actions as “desperate attempts to smear AFP and ACT Policing”.

Mr Caruana said the union intended to make a formal complaint to the Australian Information Commission and the ACT Ombudsman about the possible FOI breach and alleged “misconduct by the Director of Public Prosecutions”.

Allegations outlined in letter to ACT police chief

In a document revealed under freedom of information laws, Mr Drumgold wrote a letter detailing concerns that police had engaged in a campaign to pressure him not to prosecute Mr Lehrmann over Ms Higgins’ allegation.
On Thursday, The Guardian reported Mr Drumgold sent the letter to the ACT’s police chief, Neil Gaughan, on 1 November.
“I am of the view that at the conclusion of the trial, there should be a public enquiry into both political and police conduct in this matter,” Mr Drumgold wrote.
But Mr Caruana said the union “firmly believes” the ACT DPP compromised Mr Lehrmann’s trial.
He said any inquiry must also assess the conduct of Mr Drumgold, his office, the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner and Mr Rattenbury.

He also questioned whether the information obtained by The Guardian had been deliberately leaked by Mr Drumgold’s office.

“The FOI from the ACT DPP to The Guardian, to our knowledge, has no redactions, and it includes personal details of officers involved in the investigation,” he said.
“ACT Policing was not consulted on the release of information and its members’ details.”
ACT Policing – the unit of the AFP responsible for providing policing services to the Australian Capital Territory – said it was aware the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had released the letter and noted the DPP had requested a public inquiry into the matter.
“As such, it would be inappropriate to provide any further comment in relation to any aspects surrounding this matter including commentary about the letter from the ACT DPP,” a spokesman said on Thursday.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit . In an emergency, call 000.
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