Supporters of the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House have called for further legal action after the charges against him were sensationally dropped yesterday.
The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold dropped the sexual assault charges against Bruce Lehrmann, who had pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent, when he faced a trial in the ACT Supreme Court in October.
A retrial had been scheduled to start on February 20, after the july was dismissed five days into deliberations when a juror was found to have conducted independent research, despite repeated warnings not to.
Drumgold indicated that he had recieved advice that had motivated him to drop the retrial.
“I have recently received compelling evidence from two independent medical experts that the ongoing trauma associated with this prosecution presents a significant and unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant,” he said.
“The evidence makes it clear that this is not limited to the harm of giving evidence in a witness box, rather applies whether or not the complainant is required to enter a witness box during a retrial.”
Higgins, who is currently being treated in hospital, was supported throughout the trial by various media figures including former The Project host Lisa Wilkinson, who cited mental health concerns as a reason for her own departure.
Wilkinson’s husband Peter FitzSimons had also helped Higgins to secure a lucritive $325,000 book deal offer to write her story.
In October, Higgins admitted to a jury that she had planned chapters of a book about her life before she was formally interviewed by police about her rape claims.
“Yes I can absolutely do this … I’ve had the chapters outlined for the last month or so,” text messages from the ex-Liberal staffer revealed.
Supporters of Lehrmann, who has maintained his innocence throughout the trial, say he’s already been found guilty by the court of public opinion with the intense media coverage.
“Is Bruce Lehrmann now going to sue Brittany Higgins, Lisa Wilkinson, Network Ten, etc for all the psychological abuse and suffering and reputation damage? If it was me – they’d be in court for years. And then they’d be bankrupt,” wrote former journalist Damian Coory on Twitter.
Is Bruce Lehrmann now going to sue Brittany Higgins, Lisa Wilkinson, Network Ten, etc for all the psychological abuse and suffering and reputation damage? If it was me – they’d be in court for years. And then they’d be bankrupt. #auspol #BrittanyHiggins
— Damian Coory – The Other Side (@OtherSideAus) December 1, 2022
Higgins is reportedly undergoing mental health treatment at a Queensland-based hospital and granted permission to friend and supporter Emma Webster to release a statement on her behalf, reading:
“Brittany is in hospital getting the treatment and support she needs The last couple of years have been difficult and unrelenting. 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.”
She was previously hospitalised before her October court date to receive care and mental health treatment.