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Higgins trial implodes

By Bettina Arndt - posted Friday, 28 October 2022

What a circus. The Higgins case was heading for a hung jury after five days of deliberation during which not a single question was put to the judge – which suggests that the jury was battling over beliefs rather than wrestling with understanding the evidence.

But then one juror appears to have taken it upon him/herself to do their own research, coming up with an academic paper described by the judge as a discussion of “the unhelpfulness of attempting to quantify the prevalence of false complaints of sexual assault and a deeper, research-based analysis of the reasons for both false complaints and scepticism in the face of true complaints.”

The paper apparently turned up in the jury room, during tidying by sheriff’s officers, who accidentally knocked this juror’s document holder onto the floor exposing the offending item. The judge concluded the juror had breached her carefully explained instructions requiring jurors to rely only upon evidence presented to court. That wasenough for the whole damn thing to be called off.


The Higgins/Lehrmann trial has been aborted, the jury dismissed. A new date, Feb 20, 2023, has been set for a retrial.

This morning the judge gave strict orders for media silence prior to new trial date but made an exception for reporting of her decision today. Amazingly, that was enough for Higgins to leap back into the limelight, tearfully addressing a media mob, reading from a prepared speech complaining about the “asymmetrical criminal justice system” where she was “required to tell the truth, under oath, for over a week on the witness stand and was cross-examined at length” while the accused was allowed to remain silent. “He hasn’t been held publicly accountable for his actions, or any part of his story.”

She went on: “My life has been publicly scrutinised open for the world to see….This is the reality of how complainants and sexual assault cases are treated.”

Apparently Bruce Lehrmann’s lawyers have referred Higgin’s speech to the court and to federal police, and are seeking urgent legal advice about whether Brittany Higgins could be charged with a criminal offence for the speech which breached laws around fair trials.

These latest twists in the ongoing saga provide further proof of the near impossibility of fair treatment for Lehrmann given the media’s complicity in promoting Higgins’ “truth”. Despite the judge’s media blackout, there’s no doubt the Higgins mob will continue their merry way, flaunting media ethics about presumption of innocence with endless articles presenting their version of events. Even after the jury started their deliberations last week, Elle Magazine ran this article attacking the court system for allowing defence teams to undermine the credibility of the alleged victims. The next day the SMH’s  Jacqueline Maley was happily promoting Higgins’ line that due to political pressure she was too frightened to go to the police. And The Guardian came up with a most peculiar article which argued courts were silencing rape victims while privileging the accused’s “right to privacy and reputation.” Tell that to Bruce Lehrmann.

They continue to get away with tossing aside any pretense of fair treatment for this accused man. Conservative media in Australia, particularly the smaller players like Sky News or The Spectator, know all too well that the Higgins machine, with their teams of feminist lawyers, can use threats of defamation to silence anyone who challenges Higgins’ story, or mounts a case for the defence.


It means commentators like me simply can’t afford to stick their necks out in public over this one. It’s been maddening sitting back and watching as the feminist operators control the narrative throughout this whole saga.

So it goes on. Think about the fact we pay for the whole massive legal apparatus making the Higgins case in court – including the territory’s top Crown Prosecutor and a massive team working for months to try to convict the accused. Meanwhile Bruce Lehrmann had to beg and plead to find decent lawyers to defend him and now has to rely on pro bono help to fight the next rounds. Hopefully, he may now attract some big guns willing to make the case for a permanent stay to bring a stop to these absurd proceedings, if necessary, all the way to the High Court.

Meanwhile, across the country there are men in jail as a result of being unable to afford to defend themselves against rape accusations based on flimsy evidence. The ‘believe-women’ culture has ensured there’s no place for the stories of these men and their families. They are the forgotten people.


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About the Author

Bettina Arndt is a social commentator.

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