'Deeply concerned': prosecutors warn of potentially 'unlawful' disclosures about Brittany Higgins

Exclusive: ACT's director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold reveals he has filed a complaint about classified matters currently under investigation

The ACT's director of public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, has expressed serious concern about the sharing of "potentially unlawful" police material about Brittany Higgins who is still hospitalized, revealing that he had previously filed a related complaint and that there is an active ongoing investigation.

On Saturday morning, News Corp used internal police records and briefing documents to report that investigators had doubts about Higgins' credibility, but the DPP continued to prosecute Bruce Lehrmann.

The material was published less than 24 hours after Drumgold expressed serious concern for the life of Higgins, who is hospitalized and receiving mental health treatment. He dropped the charges against Lehrmann over the alleged rape of Higgins, saying a retrial would pose an "unacceptable risk" to his health.

It's not clear who leaked the material about Higgins. The article made no mention of the fact that it was the Australian federal police's decision to press charges.

Lehrmann has consistently maintained his innocence over allegations that he raped Higgins in the parliament building. Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to one count of non-consensual sexual intercourse.

Asked to respond to the story, Drumgold expressed serious concern about the distribution of "potentially legally protected" documents.

Drumgold disclosed that he had filed a complaint about an undisclosed matter, for which an active "investigation" was being carried out. He did not specify who was being investigated or which agency or bodies carried out the investigation.

"I am deeply concerned that potentially legally protected material may have been illegally redistributed," he told the Guardian. "Given that I and others have raised concerns about matters under investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further while the investigation is ongoing."

ABC had previously reported that an internal investigation was requested by Higgins into the police's decision to share evidence with Bruce Lehrmann's defense team, which has consistently maintained that no sexual activity occurred between Higgins and himself.

The Guardian understands Higgins has yet to receive a full response to the internal investigation, which was filed in April. News Corp reported on Saturday that Drumgold had also expressed concern about turning over the material to police, including his personal psychological counseling records.

The Guardian has since seen a copy of his complaint.

“This matter is quite serious, counseling records and other sensitive information from a rape complainant has been unlawfully provided to counsel for a suspected rapist,” Drumgold said on Oct. 11, 2021. will receive.”

The ACT Policing declined to comment Saturday morning. They weren't the only ones holding onto the material.

The leaks and Drumgold's strong response suggest a serious rift has emerged between police and the DPP over the handling of the case.

Material published in Australia on Saturday claimed Drumgold had pushed to take the case to court, despite police concerns about the adequacy of the evidence. One of the investigators also complained, alleging "political interference".

In explaining his decision not to proceed with a retrial on Friday, Drumgold said he had formed the view that there were reasonable prospects before taking the case to trial.

He admits that he still maintains that view.

Drumgold also expressed serious concern about Higgins' mental health, saying a retrial would pose a significant risk to his life. The risk to his life was so great that he decided it was not in the public interest to continue.

"I recently received strong evidence from two independent medical experts that the ongoing trauma associated with this lawsuit represents a significant and unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant," he said.

The court lifted a ban Friday allowing the media to report that Higgins had suffered a mental health crisis while he was halfway through his evidentiary hearing, prompting his absence.

Close friend Emma Webster said Friday that Higgins was in hospital and receiving treatment and support. He described the last two years as "difficult and unrelenting".

"While it is disappointing that trials have ended like this, the health and safety of Brittany must always come first," he said.

"Brittany is so grateful for all the support she has received, especially from our mental health care workers."

The decision means Lehrmann's retrial, expected in February, will not go ahead. Lehrmann understandably needed time to process the development.

A friend of Lehrmann's told the Guardian he was considering a "legal solution" and would seek advice on the matter in the coming days. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS. 

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