Bruce Lehrmann rape trial has been abandoned and charges dropped.
Bruce Lehrmann, 27, denies sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins on a minister’s sofa
after a night out in 2019. He maintains no sex took place.
Mr Lehrmann’s trial collapsed in October because of jury misconduct.
The ongoing risk to Ms Higgins’s mental health means a retrial is not in the public
interest, prosecutors say.
“The evidence makes it clear that this is not limited to the harm of giving evidence in
the witness box,” he told reporters on Friday.
Ms Higgins is currently in hospital to help deal with the trauma of the alleged
incident and its aftermath, according to her friend Emma Webster.
“The last couple of years have been difficult and unrelenting,” Ms Webster said in a
“While it’s disappointing the trial has ended this way, Brittany’s health and safety
must always come first. Brittany is extremely grateful for all the support she has
received, particularly from our mental health care workers.”
The jury in October’s trial was discharged after 12 days of evidence and five days of
deliberation, when it emerged one member had brought in academic research papers
looking at false accusations in sexual assault cases.
Juries are required to reach a verdict only on evidence presented in the courtroom.
Her allegations were a catalyst for what has been called Australia’s “Me Too moment”,
sparking huge protests over the safety of women, particularly in politics.
It also led to a damning review which found that a third of employees in federal
parliament had been sexually harassed.
Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins had worked in the same office – for then-Defence
Industry Minister Linda Reynolds. On 22 March 2019, they both had drinks with
colleagues and others in Canberra.
Ms Higgins told police she had later fallen asleep on a sofa in Ms Reynolds’s office
and had woken to find Mr Lehrmann having sex with her.
She reported the alleged rape in the days afterwards but initially did not proceed with
her complaint because she feared for her career, a jury heard.
His lawyer, Steven Whybrow, had argued parts of Ms Higgins’s evidence were “totally
and utterly inconsistent”.