Sexual Politics

A ‘Justice System’ Reconfigured to Snare Men

Will Brittany Higgins ever be prepared to step out of the limelight? Having claimed she could never work again Higgins, presumably along with her big stash of compensation, recently popped up in Geneva, where she posed in Gucci heels before the UN building where she has started an internship. Julia Gillard’s feminist network, which got her the gig, clearly has no problem with the fact that this woman has been exposed as a tool whose dubious rape accusation did much to bring down a government.

We now have the report of the ACT inquiry into the handling of the Higgins case, leaked to on August 3,   which is now due to be released next week. Before we have full details of what the very impressive Commissioner Walter Sofronoff concluded about this toxic mess of a trial, it’s timely to consider what the extraordinary inquiry has revealed about what was really going on.

The long month of hearings was quite a show. Who could resist watching cocky prosecutor Drumgold get his comeuppance, forced into taking extended leave after his wrong-doing was exposed day after day? Or the argy bargy between our country’s top barristers, jostling to protect key witnesses. And, of course, the revelations about Higgins and her boyfriend bullying the police. All vastly entertaining but hardly the main game.

The story that really matters is what the inquiry revealed about the stinking ideological swamp that has engulfed our criminal law system. Hobbling of police officers, rewriting rules of evidence, secret committees forcing all rape cases through to court. Here was the new victim-centred justice system fully on display, showing utter contempt for the presumption of innocence and rights of the accused.

But the real revelation was the key role played in this new system by the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates, who had police and prosecutors dancing to her tune – her ambitious objective being the remaking of the way the criminal justice system handles sexual assault. Yates’ antics had me reeling since they exposed just how completely a criminal law system can be subverted when placed in the hands of an ideologue. We all witnessed this po-faced creature, trotting  every day into court alongside Brittany Higgins – an act which Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyer, Steve Whybrow, described as like wearing a “Bruce is guilty” T-shirt. This woman is a lawyer, yet we saw her standing by while Higgins ignored the judge’s contempt of court rules to spew out an attack on Lehrmann and the justice system after the case was declared a mistrial.

We didn’t know half of it. What’s gobsmacking is the inquiry revealed that Higgins had prepared that statement in advance and shown it to Yates. (And to Drumgold!)  Sofronoff was clearly incredulous that, in that circumstance, Yates just stood by and let Higgins deliver that speech (see the clip embedded below). “Did it cross your mind that amongst the things she would say would be words to the effect that, ‘Bruce Lehrmann is guilty?’” he asked. Yates responded that she was simply concerned about getting Higgins through her stressful day and wasn’t focused on her speech. Yates had made arrangements for how and where Higgins would deliver that speech, yet when the inquiry’s counsel put to her that it was “problematic for you as Victim of Crime Commissioner to stand next to her publicly when she made those comments,” Yates said she hadn’t thought about it.

When asked whether, in retrospect, she should have acted differently, she said she “would not have made a different decision” about accompanying Higgins to court. This woman appears to believe Higgins had the right to trample all over Bruce Lehrmann’s presumption of innocence.

As well as the Victims of Crime Commissioner, Yates is a member of the ACT Human Rights Commission – dual roles which you might have thought would cause some conflict. But Yates explained to the Inquiry she had that sorted. She proudly described how, in 2021, after extensive policy work and consultation, the ACT had introduced a Charter of Rights, which promotes new rights for complainants designed “to balance” classic human rights – presumably, the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.

The Charter of Rights tilts the scales firmly in the complainant’s favour. “In practical terms we start from a position of belief,” Yates explained. Belief in the woman’s story. She added, “If they are telling us that they have suffered harm because of an offence, we believe that in the first instance.” Well, not just in the first instance. Yates apparently clung to her belief in Higgins story even after the police’s extensive investigation revealed her evidence didn’t stack up, and after Higgins’ lies were exposed in cross-examination.

Charged with her mission, Yates used the new Charter of Rights to claim a central role in the investigation leading up to the trial.

♦ She inserted herself as an unwelcome intermediary between Higgins and the police. According to Detective Superintendent Scott Moller who ran the criminal investigations unit, police felt “Ms Yates was speaking for Ms Higgins and not allowing Ms Higgins to speak”.

♦ Yates used her Charter of Rights to demand updates on the investigation, and discussed with Drumgold whether he should bypass the police and charge Lehrmann himself.

♦ Yates objected to Moller telling Higgins she threatened the investigation by talking to the media. “She can’t stop. She’s the face of the movement now,” Yates told him.  

♦ The Charter of Rights was used to persuade police to allow Higgins to be shown CCTV vision, bending normal rules which prevent evidence being shown to witnesses.

♦ She acted as a conduit for Higgins’ boyfriend, David Sharaz, passing on his email message to police threatening to go to the media if Lehrman wasn’t charged.

♦ She used Drumgold to thwart Moller’s efforts to contact Higgins directly – police were barred from any interaction with Higgins after Lehrmann was charged.

♦  She briefed Higgins prior to meetings with politicians on advocacy for sexual abuse victims.

This was just a lead-up to the roll out of a whole new system of “victim-centric, trauma-informed justice” which Yates boasted on ABC radio would “reverberate around the nation.”

(Two months ago I wrote about the abundant evidence demolishing the whole notion of trauma-informed practice, as spelt out in a Centre for Prosecutor Integrity report on “trauma-informed junk science”. This piece quoted an Air Force Office of Special Investigations assessment dismissing such approaches as based on “flawed science” and quoting numerous negative evaluations in journal articles and expert commentary.)

Behind the scenes during the police investigations, pressure from the Higgins-inspired March4Justice led to the establishment of a Sexual Assault, Prevention and Response Steering Committee (SAPR), to cook up recommendations for stitching up accused men. They announced a taskforce to review all ACT decisions since 2015 in which alleged perpetrators who had ended up not being charged, plus new procedures which, in effect, ensure all cases can be pushed through to court. Naturally, Yates was part of the steering committee responsible for the SAPR, which consulted with, amongst other feminist groups, the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, where Yates’ mother had worked.

No one looking back at Yates’ work history would be surprised by her indifference to men’s rights. She had years of advocacy for LGBTQI organisations and women’s legal groups before working for ACT Legal Aid, which she headed up just prior to taking on her current roles. It’s hardly surprising then, that Bruce Lehrmann was told by ACT Legal Aid that their lawyers weren’t prepared to allow Higgins “to be challenged in court as a liar” and, further, that they wouldn’t use Steve Whybrow as a barrister because he was too aggressive.

That’s the climate Federal Police were facing when investigating the Higgins case. Their bosses knew the push was on to find they were “undercharging” – and sure enough SAPR’s taskforce came up with shockingly low charging rates for the ACT, which police lawyers revealed during the inquiry to be based on wrong data. It was clear the traditional investigatory work required of police was being downgraded, and the police encountered increasing hostility, with Drumgold making comments to the jury in the trial about their poor skill sets and claiming they were boof-heads, with outdated and stereotyped opinions.

It was enlightening during the inquiry watching these police officers being cross-examined by hostile barristers, as they staunchly defended their right to do the work of determining whether there was sufficient evidence to charge Lehrmann. There was the senior officer, for instance, who threatened to resign if Lehrmann was charged. And the intriguing diary note from the big boss, Policing Commander Michael Chew, apparently commenting on some of Higgins’ evidence: “Everything else is made up.” Naturally he was leaned on by the lawyers to deny that was the case.

But also chilling to see these officers, particularly Moller, who seems a good bloke, forced to mouth the platitudes required for this new feminist climate, giving assurances about the importance of Yates’ work and the value of victim-centric, trauma-informed justice.  One bizarre moment was when Yates’ lawyer, while working strenuously to force police to wind back their condemnation of Yates’ intervention in the case, paraded the fact that her client had presented one of the officers with home-made biscuits. When you consider that Yates’ mission appears to have been to do police investigators out of a job, this struck me as rather like offering a final cigarette before the firing squad.

The police did their job, but it was obvious this showcase was going to trial. Politicians, women’s groups, and the media were baying for blood. And they had Drumgold making it clear he intended to prosecute the case, no matter what.

So, while Bruce Lehrmann and his lawyers were preparing for the criminal trial, police involved with sexual assault cases were discovering their world had changed. The full impact of SAPR’s meddling was revealed when they were advised by Drumgold of a significant change to the charging threshold – a far lower test for the decision to take a case to trial. Police were informed that the mere fact that the complainant had been interviewed could be sufficient to result in charging.  No longer were police to reach their own decision about whether a case had legs. No need for cogent evidence or thorough investigations. A woman’s “truth” would be all that is required.

It looks as though we have reached the frightening position where a rape case should go to trial even if investigators don’t believe a complainant, i.e. that they conclude no offence was committed. Somehow it is considered that a jury could still find such a case proven beyond reasonable doubt. (It would be interesting to see how this sits with the High Court.)

Since the Higgins case ended, the full extent of the new regime has been revealed with the establishment of a Criminal Investigations Management Committee overseeing all charging decisions, which police told the inquiry seems intent on pushing all rape cases through to trial.

And now it all appears to be in place. The rights of any male facing a rape accusation in the ACT courts have well and truly been sacrificed on the altar of feminist ideology. The full extent of this capture of our justice system was on display during the inquiry but naturally passed almost entirely unnoticed in the media coverage.

In his opening remarks Sofronoff commented that “a public inquiry is a powerful engine for getting at the truth, but an inquiry must not just uncover the truth; it must tell the community about it.” Let’s hope the Commissioner finds a way to address the truth that so many are determined to ignore 

44 thoughts on “A ‘Justice System’ Reconfigured to Snare Men

  • Alistair says:

    The astonishing thing to me is that the Police appear to have done their job. In ACT of all places! I find it hard to believe that would happened in other jurisdictions – like Vicpol for example. I just wonder what went wrong. Did Drumgold step on too many Police toes?

    • Occidental says:

      I agree, it was fascinating to hear of police actually doubting a complainant and being reluctant to lay charges. But it also reminds me that when I had dealings with AFP officers, they were quite obviously a cut above state police.

      • Bosun says:

        Perhaps they just looked at the CCTV footage that showed Higgins walking away down the passageway on arrival at Parliament House – she looked very sober to me. She declared however that she was very drunk. Why?

    • garykirk says:

      The astonishing thing to me is that many jurors actually swallowed this rubbish and were ready to pronounce Bruce Lehrmann guilty, as evidenced by one sane juror feeling he needed to prove to his fellow jurors that women do indeed lie.

  • pmprociv says:

    Thanks, Bettina, for this thoughtful, supportive piece. We boring, white, non-queer, heterosexual males need you to keep up your work now more than ever! I agree with all you’ve written about Yates, yet Sofronoff’s report, most disappointingly, seems to have given her a free pass. How do you explain that?

    • Ceres says:

      Yes. I too was surprised that the outstanding Sofronoff felt that Yates presence every day was justified and nothing should be read into it. Yates like so many lefties seems to be failing upwards.
      As a woman, I share your concerns at the way white men are being denigrated at every turn and have always admired Bettina’s stance in going in to bat when warranted.

  • Occidental says:

    Its been a while, but from memory so long as a jury “could” accept a complainant’s evidence, then it was fit to go before a jury. Likewise and as a consequence police “should” charge, magistrates “should” commit for trial, and or prosecutors should lay an indictment for an offence, if a jury could accept a complainants evidence (which disclosed an offence). I think the case they used to refer to was May v O’Sullivan 1955, but I am sure there are more recent cases. The last, a crown prosecutors power to lay an indictment has always been shrouded in a bit of mystery. The prosecutors power historically has always been independant of the court, so its always up to the prosecutor.
    Of course all this was laid bare, from a different angle in Cardinal Pell’s case. The fact that every pack of lies that goes to police does not end up in court is thanks to the police disregarding the aforementioned principles.

    • colin_jory says:

      Occidental, what you say makes very good sense. Strictly speaking, the police are obliged to arrest a person accused of criminality, and the Director of Public Prosecutions to recommend to the police that they commit the person for trial, or alternatively commit the person for trial himself/herself, if there is any realistic chance that a jury would find the person guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This means, necessarily, that the police and the DPP must each make a judgment about how a jury might think. Hitherto, and in practice, the judgment has been of how a properly instructed jury of honest and reasonable individuals, considering the evidence rationally, might think. Consequently, hitherto, a person accused or suspected of criminality would not be arrested, or if arrested would not be committed for trial, if the police or the DPP judged that the available evidence, sensibly evaluated, was manifestly incapable of supporting a “beyond reasonable doubt” jury conviction. This was certainly how the ACT branch of the Australian Federal Police thought when considering the accusations against Bruce Lehrmann, and it explains why they were extremely reluctant to charge him. The ACT DPP, Shane Drumgold, by contrast, insisted, in essence, that under ACT law the duty of the police was to charge Lehrmann if there was any chance that a jury might convict him, regardless of whether the jury’s deliberations might be honest and rational or not, and regardless of whether the jury might weigh the evidence presented to it sensibly or not – which is tantamount to saying, regardless of whether the jury might be a manifestly twisted Pell jury or not. If this Drumgold interpretation of the relevant ACT legislation is correct – legislation which he and Heidi Yates almost certainly helped to draft – that legislation requires, in effect, automatic arrest and automatic committal to trial upon an accusation of sexual assault. As Bettina Arndt says, “Police were informed [by Drumgold] that the mere fact that the complainant had been interviewed could be sufficient to result in charging. No longer were police to reach their own decision about whether a case had legs. No need for cogent evidence or thorough investigations. A woman’s ‘truth’ would be all that is required.” Such is the case in the ACT – but has it also become the case, because of orchestrated feminist pressure, in some or all of the other Australian States and Territories as well?

      • colin_jory says:

        Incidentally, Heidi Yates’ presentation of “home-made biscuits” to Senior Constable Emma Frizzell while the latter was investigating Brittany Higgins’ allegations was an obvious, and I suggest inappropriate in the circumstances, “lets-be-friends” gesture to the Senior Constable. The implication seems to have been that Heidi herself baked the biscuits; but since her female domestic partner owns a bakery in the village near Canberra where they reside, and since according to Heidi in a 2019 Canberra Times profile it was her partner who did the cooking there while she herself performed incidental duties such as “lighting the wood fire on the oven, delivering loaves”, I think it is more likely that it was the partner who baked the biscuits. (For the profile, see

  • Daffy says:

    And young women wonder why young men avoid them. Simply too dangerous to go near a woman without wearing a body camera like the cops (or SAS, laughably) are expected to.
    This will not benefit women.

  • Mike O'Ceirin says:

    As a Canberra citizen and having had a brush with its legal system over a family matter this was of intense interest to me. Much has been said in the media about what happened on that Friday. She was a new employee of 2 to 3 weeks but evidently had come from a another department. He was invited by her to an event after work at which there were defence personnel. This was of interest since that was exactly where his employer Reynolds was also interested. In the wee small hours of Saturday it was time to go home he claimed he had to pick up keys from his office at Parliament house. It should be investigated were Higgins was living at the time since Higgins must’ve asked to share the uber. No explanation is given why they both went into Parliament house he says he wanted to note down what he had learnt at the social event an acceptable story. Higgins says she was very drunk on the night having had 10 drinks and set is directly she was taken advantage of in Reynolds office. At the security check in she takes off her shoes for them to be checked and rather than put them back on runs without a sign of inebriation through the barrier. Then they both go to Reynolds office her into the area where she was employed and he into his. He leaves much earlier than her and she much later. He gives a reason for spending time there she doesn’t. He has left before security came around to check but she is still there in a state of undress. An explanation could be that was what she was waiting for. Certainly something happened at this time which is undisclosed any normal male would have checked back on her before he continued home. She was wearing a white dress and claimed she had wrapped in plastic to preserve it as evidence but was photographed a week later wearing it. The whole thing looks like a set up run by people who did not expect to be questioned closely hence the sloppiness. There are a large number of people who cooperated to produce this outcome. Lehrmann, I think was incidental. Finally he is unwilling to sue her for defamation which is a pity since this should be kickback. How many other cases in the ACT has the male concerned just caved in?

    • Bosun says:

      You think in a more realistic framework than most. The whole scenario just doesn’t gel.

      Extending your perspective I wonder how deep the political connection goes. Katy Gallagher was a work colleague of Drumgold. Could it be the temptation to severely dam,a Liberal Government prior to an imminent election was too much to resist and Drumgold answered the call?

  • Occidental says:

    You have touched on something which I have found quite interesting, – the recently surfaced cctv footage. The complainant from the time the story first broke, and presumably during the trial has avered to one thing, that she could not have consented to intercourse due to her state of intoxication. Yet anyone seeing that footage would be confident in saying that at that time that footage was recorded some 40 or so minutes prior to the defendant leaving the parliament building, that she is no where near that state. The jury never saw the footage, how could it have been hidden? She could of course give evidence that she skulled a bottle of Jack Daniels, or more likely being a ministers rooms, a bottle of 53 year old Glenfarclas, as soon as she arrived. But however you cut it, that video footage is pretty damning of her story. Yet there has been almost no media coverage of the discrepancy. Yesterday’s news indeed.

    • Mike O'Ceirin says:

      I think the footage you refer to was of her entering rather than leaving. I think the whole thing was a set up, so poorly executed that those that set it up expected the obvious discrepancies would be overlooked.

  • Ian MacKenzie says:

    Based on what was published in the Australian, I don’t think the “po-faced creature” has much to worry about from the Sofronoff enquiry. The losers would appear to be Drumgold (unsurprisingly) and the ACT government which probably agreed to the enquiry hoping for evidence of the political interference Drumgold alleged but could not sustain. The winners would appear to be Reynolds and Lehrmann who are effectively exonerated and now both free to pursue legal action with every chance of success.
    Sofronoff’s comments on Yates, as published in the Australian, indicate that he believes her actions were consistent with the responsibilities of her official position. It’s not clear from what I’ve seen if he agrees with the necessity for such a person, or if the position is consistent with the principles underpinning a fair trial. That may be because such matters are outside of the remit he was given, or because such commentary hasn’t yet been published.
    Sofronoff, in combination with leaked texts revealing collusion between Higgins, left-wing reporters and senior members of the ALP, has dealt a fatal blow to the overtly political aspect of this scandal. As far as the more subtle undermining of our legal system by the MeToo movement, we will have to wait and see when the full report is released.

  • Hugh Jaase says:

    So who pays Heidi Yates salary and if it’s all of us mug taxpayers, can we ALL expect to have a government funded advocate to assist us when any of us might end up in court? Yeah, nah. Didn’t think so.

  • Michael says:

    We now live in a profoundly anti-male society.

    • Bosun says:

      I don’t know about that. My wife still adheres to our nuptial contract. I think she did very well for herself – so did I.
      Unfortunately I have now aged and the balance of power and advantage has swung in her favour.

      It’s a pity young women don’t seem to realise life is a moving feast.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    It’s refreshing to see someone as well qualified and experienced as Bettina Arendt be so determined to stand up for what she sees as the truth. It’s good for the soul.
    We could do with a lot more people like her in the social sciences field where it’s been rare to see anyone stand up against the overwhelming political pressure this article refers to – when arguably the truth demands that such pressure should be resisted in particular instances like this. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and be counted.
    The Sofronoff report uncovered more disturbing aspects to what was already a disturbing and troublesome case which has been so highly politicised. The judge showed great courage too when others in positions of power and influence on all sides seemed to have been overly influenced by contemporary political pressure.
    Given the revelations in the Sofronoff report and their potential relevance to current cases before the courts one has to ask the question why did the territory’s government plan to hold onto this report for a month without releasing it?
    Surely those who’d been potentially wronged and continue you to be potentially wronged by what’s been uncovered in this enquiry had the right to know these findings as soon as possible. Arguably it could have materially affected their rights if access to these findings had been delayed for a month or longer.
    I note the prosecutor has now resigned from his position.

  • Steve Moore says:

    On this trajectory, it won’t be long before an erection is considered a crime.

  • norsaint says:

    The preeminent scholar of the Divorce Industry and its feminist driver, Stephen Baskerville, has stated accurately that “feminism is about nothing, if not the denial of due process.”
    These dangerous harpies didn’t earn the sobriquet of Feminazis for nothing.
    This sort of corruption of the law has been rife in Victoria for at least two decades.
    Baskerville also astutely observed that the feminazis declared war over 30 years ago but only one side turned up.
    The thing which positively sickens, is the so called conservative inability to combat the harridans.
    As for Morrison’s pathetic response at the time, the less said the better.

  • norsaint says:

    Women have been weaponized and can now only be considered very dangerous creatures.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    In my view, ‘victims’ of crime need to be established as actual victims before a support person using that rubric should stand in public by an accuser whose case has not yet been heard. An impartial support person, from the Salvation Army or some other voluntary organisation, should fulfil the support role until the ‘victim’ is established as such in a court of law. At least a more neutral rubric, such as Supplementary Support Person or similar could be used for any individual supporting an accuser.

    Reminds me of when I was assisting my son in a contentious custody battle for his son. When I walked into the Sydney Family Court building with my son I was besieged by women offering me various forms of assistance – a separate room with sofas, a cup of tea with biscuits, a chat with a friendly solicitor or a counsellor. When I said I am here for my son all support was immediately withdrawn. We sat on benches in a cold hall with no help at all. He won in the end, but it was a horrible time for us both involving many Court appearances and false accusations by his ex-partner, who had a serious psychiatric illness, a schizophrenia, which she hid for as long as possible, to the detriment of the toddler child in her care. In various Court appearances she always had various paid supporters assisting her. My son only had me.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    When Kathleen Folbigg was accused of murdering her four children (she’s now been pardoned due to legal uncertainties) and was suffering tremendous public dislike and anger, I was always pleased to note that by her side, firmly holding her forearm close, was a small and grey-haired but determinedly supportive woman wearing a Salvation Army uniform. Kathleen was not left alone during this time. Someone was there, caring for her, in common humanity. Given that I felt at the time that the case was at least one where the woman’s mental condition warranted some consideration, because no sane woman kills her children, I was so pleased to see the support the Salvo’s offered. All people deserve humane consideration in such times of major stress, men too, and regardless of later proven guilt or declared innocence. Calling it Victim’s Support though is a complete misnomer.

  • Carlos says:

    There was a compelling story of a lying complainant in last weekends Oz. Thankfully; in this case some clever sleuthing by the kid’s lawyers uncovered her lies and falsehoods. Even then, there’s no penalty for her perjury, just the collective belief that she must have been ‘mistaken.’

    If you change the names, it’s quite chilling, particularly the barristers remarks:

    The big question still haunts (Bruce): why did she do it?

    “I think she kept peddling the lie for the sympathy and attention and had a narcissistic, perhaps even psychotic disposition that caused her to essentially dig herself a hole,” (Bruce) says.

    “I’m sure she reached a point where she was thinking she should come clean but at that point, how do you tell your friends and family and the police that you have been lying for months years about such a ­horrendous thing.”

    (Steve Whybrow) is less forgiving.

    “There are ruthless, awful people who will make false complaints, just as there are ruthless, awful people who commit other crimes,” he says.

    “And they will do it with a heartlessness and a remorselessness and an effrontery that most people find it really difficult to accept, because we all tend to judge by our own standards.

    “That’s a logical mistake. Because if the person is making a false complaint, they’re not the sort of person you are.”

    • pmprociv says:

      Spot on, Carlos. And you can imagine just what an even more complicated mess it becomes when political apparatchiks intrude, for ulterior motives — although you don’t need to imagine in the Higgins case: we can now see it directly. I wonder if the full truth will ever be revealed, who the masterminds were?

    • Occidental says:

      Whybrow is being diplomatic, and that case is an extreme one. I had a general practice in outback queensland, where crime was probably only 5% of my practice, but in the space of 15 or so years I would have represented 20 clients charged with rape, where the issue was (save once only) consent. Other practitioners who had far larger criminal practices than mine would have many more cases.The reasons for false complaint are usually reputation. That is reputation with their peers, husband, boy friend or just generally. Usually the false complaint starts as a lie and when friends or husband demand they see the police the lie just grows. But whilst many of the complainants might be immature or desperate to maintain a relationship, they are often ordinary indviduals, atleast from what you can tell. But make no mistake false complaints to the police occur in the thousands or tens of thousands every year in this country.

  • Homer Sapien says:

    There are times when one wishes to live in North Korea.

  • MargieCJ says:

    The law should be based on fairness, detachment, rational behaviour and intention. And never forget the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
    In this case, those criteria do not appear to have been followed.
    Did the woman in this case intend to drink alcohol till she was drunk; did she intend to go with the man in his car back to his room in parliament house to study politics?
    Notices everywhere in bars say 2 standard alcoholic drinks and you can still drive, any more you must NOT drive. If a person knowingly and willingly drinks 3 or more alcoholic drinks, then they are knowingly and willingly putting themselves in a compromising situation and some degree of blame and guilt belongs to them about ensuing behaviours and consequences.
    It is easy enough to call a taxi in Canberra, she could have gone home in one!

  • Sydgal says:

    The exhibits relating to the VCC on the BOI website provide an insight into the level of support provided to B Higgins. H Yates was spending a lot of time helping Higgins with her advocacy work with politicians and public servants and lining up Higgins’ meetings with advocates during a trip to Queensland. Yates also advised Higgins on financial support available for victims (Higgins seemed to be eligible for payments relating to economic loss associated with psychological care expenses??), communicated with Higgins’ compensation lawyer and tried to sort out Higgins’ phone issues when she finally handed in her phone to Police.

    The VCC was also accompanying Higgins on interstate trips, chauffeuring Higgins and Sharaz eg airport, hotel and police station transfers, coordinating Higgins/Sharaz/possible dog travel to Canberra for the trial, and serving refreshments at meetings (I think supplying homemade biscuits at police meetings and “ferrying cups of tea and water” to Higgins’ supporters in a meeting room were items identified at the BOI). Are these really tasks for a Commissioner to undertake? Do all complainants receive this sort of service? So much for equality before the law!

    In relation to Higgins and the CCTV footage, it looked like she touched Lehrmann twice on the shoulder when they were at the pub. Lehrmann seemed more interested in talking to the group. And at the security screening in Parliament House, he seemed more interested in his phone!

    • colin_jory says:

      Who could blame him? Actually, in the said footage Lehrmann comes across as uninterested in Higgins, and she as a tag-along pest trying to keep up with him. If, appearances notwithstanding, he was actually in the grip of insatiable lust and contriving to lure her into a situation where he could get his wicked way with her, he sure went about it in the most inept way imaginable.

      • Sydgal says:

        Colin, yes, I agree. I am still confused about the actual CCTV shown to the jury, was it the CCTV we saw on the Lehrmann Spotlight program, or was it a video of Higgins watching the CCTV video at her second police interview. It was reported that she wanted to watch the video. The police agreed but wanted to film her watching the video. Much of the media reporting is about her reaction crying, wiping her tears, getting a tissue etc when she watched the video. It’s very difficult to know without access to the transcripts (I think S Whybrow did ask for transcripts to be released in his submission to the Sofronoff Inquiry)
        eg story
        “As the court was shown footage of them passing through security, where Ms Higgins could be seen struggling to put her black heels on, she wept.
        “Is this the second time you’re seeing it,” Chief Justice Lucy McCallum asked.
        “Yes, that’s correct,” she responded, wiping away her tears.
        On Wednesday, the jury sat by as the court was played video of the moment federal police agreed to Ms Higgins’ request to see the CCTV footage during her second police interview.
        The jury was not shown the clip, only Ms Higgins’ reactions as she watched it with police.” story – this story says the Police asked if she wanted to view the CCTV but I thought it was Higgins who kept asking to see it. Recent stories state the police should not have shown her the CCTV.

        “Ms Higgins’ first two recorded interviews with police were aired to the jury in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday, showing the former poitical staffer’s reaction to footage from the night, and claiming Mr Lehrmann had tried to kiss her in the past.

        The jury was shown a video of Ms Higgins being played the footage of her and Mr Lehrmann entering Parliament House and outside Senator Reynolds’ office.

        Ms Higgins was asked by police if she wanted to see the CCTV footage, to which she replied that she did.

        She was shown three separate clips, which will be played before the jury when Ms Higgins is in the witness box.

        A few minutes into being shown the videos by the police, Ms Higgins became visibly upset and began wiping away tears.

        She then pulled a tissue from the box next to her and wiped her nose.

        At one point she was seen covering her mouth as she watched the videos.

        After viewing the CCTV footage, Ms Higgins said “it makes sense” how she and Mr Lehrmann had entered Parliament House.”

        “The court also viewed CCTV footage of Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins going through the security checkpoint, in which the prosecution alleged Mr Lehrmann could be seen only picking up a mobile phone.
        The court was then played a recording of Mr Lehrmann telling parliamentary security via an intercom that the pair were there to pick up “documents”.
        “Oh, hi, mate. Bruce Lehrmann here with Minister Linda Reynolds. We’ve been requested to pick up some documents — I’ve forgotten my pass.”
        But the prosecution alleged CCTV footage showed neither Mr Lehrmann nor Ms Higgins carrying documents when they left the building.”

        Recent story in The Aust
        “Critical CCTV footage of Bruce Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins in parliament house on the night of her alleged rape has been handed over to court, after a top silk in the defamation proceedings demanded to know why it wasn’t produced earlier.
        Seven Network delivered the footage to the federal court on Monday as part of the high-profile defamation action between Mr Lehrmann, Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson, and a separate matter concerning Mr Lehrmann and the ABC.
        Snippets of the CCTV video, showing Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins passing through parliament house security on the night of the alleged rape in 2019, were aired in the Seven Network’s Spotlight program last month.”

  • BalancedObservation says:

    I further note that the prosecutor was only able to practise in the ACT as a barrister in the government role. As a result of his resignation that role ends.
    He would need a certificate from the ACT Bar Association to continue.
    This is what the ACT Bar Association President, Marcus Hassall was reported to have said on that issue:
    “Any application by Mr Drumgold for a new or unrestricted practising certificate will require the approval of the ACT Bar Council and will necessitate consideration of the findings contained in the Sofronoff Report.”
    He said the bar council noted the findings of the Sofronoff report regarding Mr Drumgold’s conduct “with grave concerns”.
    “Those findings are patently serious and will receive careful consideration by the ACT Bar Council in the context of its role as the professional regulator of the ACT Bar”.
    I was wondering when we were going to hear from the ACT Bar.
    If the Sofronoff report had not been made available to journalists I assume we would not have heard anything of this until the ACT government released the report, which they say they only “planned” to do in a month’s time.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    Further on the question of the timing of the release of this report.
    Arguably the ACT government had a duty of care to release this report as soon as possible and not have to be pushed into releasing it by the media. At least released as soon as possible to those who could be potentially affected by the findings.
    Those people obviously include the resigning prosecutor and anyone involved in court proceedings associated with either side of this case past, current and future.
    The argument that the ACT government needed to prevent release of the report for a month seems a little thin.
    Firstly the enquiry had been help publicly anyway.
    Secondly many such reports are released far sooner than a month with governments saying they will respond to the findings at a future date. (Of course on the other hand some other government reports are buried for extensive periods and/or never acted on or released).
    Thirdly it seems that within days of the ACT government receiving the report and the report appearing in the media the ACT government said it would implement all recommendations.

  • BalancedObservation says:

    This is steadily becoming a watershed case which is likely to affect attitudes to a number of important issues including the presumption of innocence in criminal legal proceedings in Australia.
    It would be wonderful if someone of the calibre of Bettina Arndt could cover developments in articles at Quadrant.
    It would give important balance to what we are likely to read in the mainstream media.

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