Pictured: Skye Jerome outside the ACT Supreme Court last year
A prosecutor in Bruce Lehrmann’s rape trial sent the political associate’s lawyer a barrage of furious texts at 7 a.m., demanding to know if he had leaked sensitive police documents to the media.
The heated argument between Mr Lehrmann’s lawyer Steven Whybrow and prosecutor Skye Jerome emerges in documents released by a committee of inquiry investigating how the trial was handled by prosecutors and police last October.
Mr Lehrmann was charged with raping Brittany Higgins in 2019 and was tried at a month-long hearing in the ACT Supreme Court. It was abandoned due to jury misconduct. He pleaded not guilty and has always maintained his innocence.
Ms Jerome sent the first message to Mr Whybrow on 3 December – the day after her senior counsel on the matter, ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold, publicly announced that he had dropped the case against Mr Lehrmann .
“Disgraceful,” she wrote.
“I quote all police advice.”
Steven Whybrow (pictured) was Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyer at the October trial
Pictured: Texts between Sky Jerome and Steven Whybrow, asking him if he had leaked information to the media
She then sent him a link to a story in Australian newspaper The Weekend, which published a police document – known as the Moller Report – less than a day after the case was dropped.
Mr. Whybrow asked, “What happened now?”
Mrs Jerome replied, “Who leaked the documents to the Australian?”
Mr Whybrow told her he had ‘no idea where that came from’ before turning the question to her and asking how news.com.au journalist Samantha Maiden found out the case would be dropped before the announcement.
Mrs. Jerome hit back and said, “I asked you a question.”
Mr Whybrow was frustrated and replied: ‘I hope you make the same accusation against the police.’
The defense attorney was adamant that he had not read the article and that none of his team was responsible.
She then sent him screenshots of the story, to which he replied, “Wow. Thank you for sending. F**k.’
Brittany Higgins is pictured, left, outside the ACT Supreme Court in October
Bruce Lehrmann, left, is pictured with Steven Whybrow. He has always maintained his innocence
The inquiry examines whether there was any political interference before, during and after Mr Lehrmann’s trial.
The inquiry was prompted by a heated email Mr Drumgold sent to police on 1 November – before the assault charge was dropped.
Mr Whybrow’s statement at the inquest shows that on 19 October – while the jury was deliberating – he was approached by a journalist from Australia’s Janet Albrechtsen, who asked him about the Moller report.
“I received a call from Janet Albrechtsen (journalist) asking me about a document she referred to as the ‘Moller Report’, Mr Whybrow said in a statement.
“From what she told me, I understood that this meant the Investigative Review Document or some parts of it.
‘Mrs Albrechtsen asked me to confirm that the document existed. I informed her that I was not at all prepared to comment on the matter.
“I suggested she might check with AFP media, the police involved in the investigation, or file a Freedom of Information request for the document she described.”
Mr Whybrow then contacted Detective Marcus Boorman on October 20: ‘Mate, can you call me or better, can we talk?’
In further texts, Detective Boorman said there was a “lady” who wanted documentation but would have to obtain it through freedom of information.
Shen Drumgold (pictured) was heavily questioned by an investigative committee last week
The report in question describes allegations that senior police officers investigating Ms Higgins’ allegations did not believe there was sufficient evidence to convict Mr Lehrmann.
The documents were not used at trial because Mr Drumgold believed they contained ‘inadmissible opinion evidence’.
Mr Drumgold was heavily questioned last week and eventually admitted he no longer believed there was political interference in the case.
Mr Drumgold said the problems he had had to do with the police’s incompetence in handling the investigation, the inquiry heard.
On December 2, when the case was dropped, Mr Drumgold told reporters: ‘During the investigation and trial, Ms Higgins, as a complainant of sexual assault, has suffered a level of personal assault that I have not seen in more than 20 years. years of doing this job. .’
“She did so with courage, grace and dignity, and I hope this will stop now and Mrs. Higgins will be able to heal.”
Questioned by the inquiry on Monday, Mr Whybrow said he took issue with Mr Drumgold’s comments because, he said, it implied that Ms Higgins was a victim rather than an alleged victim.
“He is supposed to be an objective Justice Minister and he probably could have said, ‘This has undoubtedly had a significant impact on Mr Lehrmann, whose life has been turned upside down,'” Mr Whybrow said.
The investigation continues.