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‘We’re human’: Senior cop hits back at alarming DPP allegations

A senior police officer whose explosive report labelled Brittany Higgins a “manipulative” sexual assault complainant has defended himself against serious allegations from the ACT’s top prosecutor.

user iconNaomi Neilson 24 May 2023 Big Law
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During an inquiry into the abandoned Bruce Lehrmann prosecution, ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold SC, admitted he went to great lengths to keep the report out of defence hands.

Mr Drumgold explained this was because it was “somebody just offering gratuitous stereotyping” about a complainant.

The top prosecutor made several sensational claims following Mr Lehrmann’s attempted prosecution, including that senior police had been working with defence to secure an acquittal.


The author of the report, Detective Superintendent Scott Moller, told the inquiry he said Ms Higgins was “evasive, uncooperative and manipulative” because he doubted her credibility and did not believe there was sufficient evidence to charge Mr Lehrmann.

Mr Lehrmann has denied raping Ms Higgins in the office of their former boss, Linda Reynolds, in Parliament House in March 2019, and no findings have been made against him. The prosecution was abandoned last year due to juror misconduct.

Mr Drumgold’s lawyer, Mark Tedeschi KC, questioned why Mr Moller had written his scathing review of Ms Higgins but had not included that there was corroborative evidence or that her intoxication on the night of the alleged incident related to her ability to consent.

Mr Moller said he did not need to because the report was attached to the “evidence matrix”, which included those details.

“This executive briefing was supposed to be kept at a minimum of two pages,” Mr Moller explained during his evidence.

“So trying to compound a year and a half of investigative work into two pages is firstly very difficult, but to convey my thoughts at that time was also extremely difficult.”

Mr Moller explained he and the investigative team were feeling pressure from the media, the DPP’s office, and senior officers.

He told Mr Tedeschi that any behaviour or administrative errors during that period were because police “are only human”.

Mr Moller also slammed Mr Tedeschi for his “offensive” questions that suggested he was disappointed the case against Mr Lehrmann had progressed after he and the investigative team raised concerns about what they believed were significant weaknesses in the evidence.

He said he and the team were committed to the prosecution once Mr Drumgold gave advice about the prospects of conviction.

This evidence was in contrast to Mr Drumgold’s allegations that investigative officers were not in favour of the prosecution.

“The team were absolutely professional, and once I made a decision to move forward with the charge, they were absolutely committed to the prosecution,” Mr Moller insisted on Tuesday (23 May).

Higgins support person ‘inappropriate’, Moller says

Mr Tedeschi started his examination of Mr Moller by zeroing in on his decision to allow investigative officers to interview Heidi Yates, the Victims of Crime Commissioner and Ms Higgins’ support person.

Mr Drumgold’s lawyer asked the senior officer whether he considered that this could mean Ms Yates may have to withdraw her support.

“I don’t think that was a consequence. I thought (at the time) the consequence was … Ms Yates would, given she’s made a statement, would be refrained from observing court proceedings,” he said.

Ms Yates was asked about a photograph Ms Higgins had taken of a cocktail on the night of the alleged incident and continuity evidence about Ms Higgins’ hesitancy about handing over her phone.

Mr Tedeschi questioned why Ms Yates would even need to be interviewed about this given Mr Lehrmann admitted he and Ms Higgins had been drinking that night, and there was already footage of colleagues entering one of the bars.

“If there’s an opportunity for us to collect evidence … and evidence that would extend the investigation, then there shouldn’t be a limit on how we collect that evidence,” Mr Moller said.

Mr Moller added he thought it was inappropriate that the head of an agency would be working with someone as a support person.

He added this made officers “nervous”.

“They weren’t comfortable,” he said.

“The feedback I had was they found it … more difficult in that they couldn’t communicate freely, they often felt Ms Yates was speaking for Ms Higgins and not allowing Ms Higgins to speak.”