The top cop investigating Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations revealed that the political staffer admitted to police that she felt her memory had been “corrupted” by discussions with a news reporter.
Detective Superintendent Scott Moller made the confession while cross-examining an ACT Board of Inquiry into the investigation and prosecution of the rape allegations against Bruce Lehrmann.
Ms Higgins revealed in an exclusive interview with Samantha Maiden, political editor of news.com.au, that she was allegedly raped by Lehrmann in a parliamentary office in 2019. Lehrmann has always denied the accusation.
But assistant attorney Joshua Jones asked Supt Moller if Ms Higgins had told him that her memory of the evening had been ‘corrupted’ during the interview process with Ms Maiden.
“You had someone who told the police her memory was damaged from talking to Samantha Maiden, is that right?” asked Mr. Jones.
Supt Moller agreed, adding, “She had reported on a number of occasions that she had been drinking heavily and blacked out.”
But despite concerns about her memories of the night’s events being tarnished, police also agreed to show Ms Higgins CCTV video of the night in question.
The top cop investigating Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations (pictured) revealed she admitted her memories had been ‘corrupted’ by newspaper reporter Samantha Maiden
Brittany Higgins revealed in an exclusive interview with journalist Samantha Maiden (pictured) that she was allegedly raped by Bruce Lehrmann in a parliamentary office in 2019
“That was the dilemma we had, to be honest,” he said. “That was the problem we had because it was so important to support the victim, support her and show her [the video].
“She wanted to see that so much, to help her healing process, that it was important to show her [it]. ‘
In addition to his concerns about the impact of her conversations with reporters on her recall, Supt Moller also told Ms Higgins to stop talking to the media for fear the prosecution would collapse.
“I told Miss Higgins not to do media,” he said. “I told her the media could influence the process and I wanted her to stop media.”
He said he told her, “This is in your hands. It’s going to be tough. If the case continues, it will be difficult and your well-being is paramount.
“I certainly had to advise Ms. Higgins – and continue to do so – not to do media.”
An AFP investigative review – dubbed the Moller report – said ‘during the investigation, Miss Higgins was evasive, uncooperative and manipulative’.
Supt Moller also revealed that a scheduled meeting with Ms Higgins before Mr Lehrmann was charged was canceled for fear she would alert the media. Instead, she was notified ‘very shortly’ after the summons.
The inquiry resumed Monday morning when the chair of the inquiry criticized the Australian newspaper for publishing a photo of ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold enjoying a quiet beer in the sun at his home.
The chief prosecutor was photographed after a difficult week of giving evidence, which ultimately led to his resignation for the next few weeks.
The accompanying caption and article allegedly mocked the senior prosecutor by making puns about “Crown lager” and “Drumgold Bitter” and saying that Mr. Drumgold had called “Beer o’clock.”
But the photo was criticized by Walter Sofronoff, the retired judge leading the investigation.
“I’m appalled at trying to think of a good cause to do this,” he told the inquiry, ACT’s equivalent of a Royal Commission.
“Hiding to take a picture of a man who thinks he enjoys privacy and then publish that picture with a disdain.”
He said he wrote to the newspaper’s editor, Michelle Gunn, about the matter and admitted he was concerned it would deter other witnesses from coming forward.
The Australian newspaper was criticized for publishing a photo of ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold (pictured) enjoying a quiet beer in the sun at home in the sun
Walter Sofronoff, chair of the inquiry committee, has written to Australian editor Michelle Gunn demanding the reason for publishing the photo.
“I need more from them than I can command,” he said.
“Coercion can only give me the minimum of information. I need sincere cooperation and I got it.
“My real concern is that the witnesses who have been willing to help me will think this is part of the prize — being stalked to their homes, taking pictures unexpectedly, being ridiculed in the national media.
“If that’s the personal cost, why would anyone volunteer to do this? These kinds of publications threaten to disrupt the course of my research.
“It threatens to impede my ability to fulfill my legal duty.”
He said journalism was an important part of the investigative process to be as transparent as possible and inform the public, but questioned the purpose of the photo.
“I cannot do without the work of the journalists covering the public hearings,” he added. “I rely on them to tell the community the story the witnesses are telling me.
He admitted that “some people will inevitably be hurt by this investigation.”
He added: ‘If the publication of such a photo is appropriate, then it will be part of the cost of this investigation.
“I have written to the editor of The Australian today seeking her help in understanding the purpose for which the photo has been used and will consider my course of action if I get a reply.”
Mr Drumgold’s counsel, Mark Tedeshi, was also warned by Mr Sofronoff about the use of ’emotional’ language in the media about the police being labeled ‘incendiary’.
The investigation resumed with Australian Federal Police Detective Scott Moller (pictured) speaking out about his role in the investigation and the pressure applied by police
The investigation resumed when Supt Moller, the Australian Federal Police, was questioned about his role in the investigation and police pressure came under pressure.
“We had a significant amount of outside pressure from the media,” Supt Moller said.
“We had Miss Higgins wanting this to go on. We had internal pressure that we needed to get this done, so there was a lot of pressure on us.
“There is so much pressure to get it done as quickly as possible. There was just a sincere desire to expedite this process and bring Mr. Lehrmann to court.”
He also admitted that the police had made a mistake in giving both the defense and the prosecution copies of Ms. Higgins’ sensitive advice notes.
“That’s the bottom line, we shouldn’t have handed them over and it’s a mistake we made,” he said.
“Nobody specifically addressed the advice notes that were served, it was part of the brief that went (and) the police and I acted in good faith and shared the material we had.
“Absolutely, I admit we shouldn’t have.”
He said he suspected very early on that Mr Drumgold was gathering evidence to later use against police.
“I felt that Mr Drumgold, the DPP, was trying to gather evidence against the police to criticize the police,” he told the inquiry.
‘And I had that feeling very early on, to be honest. It had caused me a great deal of concern for myself and my research team.’
Mr Lehrmann’s rape trial was dropped last October due to jurors’ misconduct and all charges – which had been strenuously denied by him – were later dropped due to concerns over Ms Higgins’ mental health.
The investigation continues.