Emails show what Brittany Higgins’ boyfriend, David Sharaz, said to police and a victim’s lawyer before warning detectives she could go public with her concerns about their investigation of Bruce Lehrmann.
The emails between Mr Sharaz, Detective Marcus Boorman and ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates were submitted this week to a committee of inquiry, which is investigating the criminal investigation into Mr Lehrmann.
Mr Lehrmann was accused of raping Ms Higgins in Parliament House in March 2019. He has consistently denied the allegations.
The reports emerged when Superintendent Scott Moller revealed during the investigation that he had given Ms Higgins a stern warning not to speak to the media, saying she was ‘extremely frustrating’ to deal with before Ms Yates intervened.
Ms Yates became Ms Higgins’ support person, accompanying her to court every day during the October rape trial. She also handled all correspondence between Ms. Higgins and the police for the remainder of the investigation and trial.
Detectives decided to charge Bruce Lehrmann with raping Brittany Higgins within an hour of her boyfriend David Sharaz (pictured above with Ms Higgins) sending emails
The first email Sharaz sent – this time to ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates
Mr Sharaz’s first email, sent on July 29, 2021, had the subject line ‘News Story’. It was sent five months after Ms Higgins first made her rape allegations public.
It opened with details of how Ms. Higgins had “put her life on hold” during the investigation and warned that the investigation and political back-and-forth had an “impact” on Ms. Higgins.
“We have both kept quiet, as directed by the police, asking them to keep us informed of any media comment they intend to make.”
“I was hoping we could get advice again on whether we can expect a result by the end of the month as indicated?
“We will continue to adhere to current guidelines for no public comment.”
The next day, Mr. Sharaz called Detective Boorman and asked when Mr. Lehrmann would be charged.
He followed the call with an email to Detective Boorman and Supt Scott Moller, saying, “I trust you are well. Thanks for your time on the phone this morning, Marcus.’
“This just confirms Brittany’s desire to resolve this process sooner rather than later, and her expectation that direction will be given as to what the next step is.
‘She expects that direction at the end of the day, as you both indicated when you flew to Brisbane. As always happy to discuss by phone.’
Within an hour of Detective Boorman receiving the call from Mr Sharaz, Supt Moller was instructed to charge Mr Lehrmann, the investigation found Tuesday.
One of the emails David Sharaz sent to an investigator investigating Ms Higgins’ allegations
The emails were sent after News Corp published an article on July 29 about when former Home Secretary Karen Andrews claimed prosecutors were responsible for a delay in deciding whether or not to charge Mr. Lehrmann .
Shane Drumgold, ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions, denied the claim.
That same day, Mr. Sharaz emailed Mrs. Yates about the news article, “What’s going on? We read this news about it. Will a decision be taken as predicted at the July 12 meeting?’
Mrs Yates then forwarded the email to Inspector Boorman.
The inquiry revealed that Mr Sharaz called Inspector Boorman and said that Ms Higgins wanted to release a media statement about the amount of time it took police to charge Mr Lehrmann.
Supt Moller’s diary also stated that he had a briefing with Inspector Boorman about the case, which included a “discussion about Higgins considering a press release.”
Supt Moller agreed that at the time the decision was made by his boss, Commander Michael Chew, investigators were faced with “the potential threat that Mrs. Higgins would make the delay public.”
At the hearing on Wednesday, Supt Moller was questioned by Ms Yates’ lawyer, Peggy Dwyer, who asked about Ms Higgins’ second police questioning in May 2021.
During that interview, Ms Higgins was shown CCTV footage of her and Mr Lehrmann entering the House of Parliament on the night she claimed she had been raped.
Supt Moller agreed saying to Ms Higgins during that interview, “There should be no more contact with the media, stop talking to the media, if you start talking to the media and it can’t go on, it will be all have been for nothing.’
Brittany Higgins is pictured, left, outside ACT Supreme Court last October with Heidi Yates, right
“I was honest about the problems caused by the media coverage,” he told the inquiry.
Dr. Dwyer told the inquiry that Ms Higgins was in a room with five police stations when he warned her about the media.
She added that Ms Higgins had viewed footage from the night she was allegedly assaulted, her veracity had been questioned by officers and she was “visibly shaken and crying”.
Dr. Dwyer said, “There’s five cops in the room right now if you give her that advice and she might think you’re scolding her.”
Supt Moller said, ‘She could have, yes.’
He explained that he was referring to the possible prosecution of Mr Lehrmann when he made those comments, not Ms Higgins’ ability to campaign against sexual assault.
“We were fixated on prosecution … and moving this case to a prosecution and doing everything we could,” he said.
“The media had the potential to undermine anything we were trying to do – to prosecute.”
The inquiry was shown notes from Supt Moller’s diary in his diary stating that he had warned Ms Higgins not to talk to the media.
Chief Inspector Scott Moller of the Australian Federal Police (pictured) revealed the ‘exceptional’ pressure the police had exerted to charge Bruce Lehrmann
Earlier on Wednesday, Supt Moller said Ms. Higgins was “extremely frustrating” to work with before Ms. Yates became her support person.
Dr. Dwyer told Supt Moller, “An important aspect was that Mrs. Higgins was unwilling to make a formal statement at the time. [during the initial investigation]’.
“Your view was that Ms. Higgins’ strategy ended the investigation.”
Supt Moller said: ‘Ms Higgins had already done media interviews and it seemed to me that from what I was told, Ms Higgins wanted the matter reported and for it to be a live investigation – she wanted it to be a live investigation to give credibility to the story that was broadcast.”
The inquiry heard Ms. Higgins and then sent an email to Ms. Yates saying, “Can you help me?” because she wanted help communicating with the police. Supt Moller agreed that Mrs. Higgins had a right to ask Mrs. Yates for help.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Supt Moller said officers were under “considerable pressure” over the politically charged case.
“There was a real desire to expedite this process and bring Mr. Lehrmann to court,” he said.
Supt Moller later reiterated the “exceptional amount of pressure on us to get this done.”
This pressure led to police skipping the usual trials, although Supt Moller said he didn’t think there was enough evidence to charge Mr Lehrmann.
“I swore the subpoena because I didn’t want to put any of my employees in a position where they had to do something they didn’t want to do, didn’t believe in, so I did it,” he said.
“I thought there wasn’t enough evidence and then I got the director’s advice and certainly based on his advice I decided to go ahead.”
Supt Moller said the stress of the investigation affected many police officers, some of whom had to take leave of their jobs.
He also said police were wrong to provide Ms Higgins’ sensitive advice notes to prosecutors and lawyers.
“That’s the bottom line, we shouldn’t have handed them over and it’s a mistake we made,” he told the inquiry Monday.
Mr Lehrmann faced a trial at the ACT Supreme Court in October 2022, but no verdict was reached due to juror misconduct.
The charges were later dropped due to concerns about the impact a second trial would have on Ms. Higgins’ mental health.