MELBOURNE, Australia – The trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting a government employee inside Australia’s Parliament House has been postponed after a judge ruled that the journalist’s public comments were unfair to judges. Can suffer.
Britney Higgins, a 27-year-old civil servant, shook the political establishment last year when she said in a televised prime-time interview that a colleague attacked the Secretary of Defense’s office while he was drinking at night. She was sleeping after drinking. Her allegations sparked protests across Australia demanding a change in the political culture dominated by men, in which sexual abuse has long been tolerated – a calculation that experts say Says he played a key role in ousting the conservative government. Federal elections Last month.
In August, police charged 26-year-old Bruce Lehrmann with counting unaccounted for sex in the Higgins case. Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty and said there had been no sexual activity with Mr Higgins during his 2019 contest, which he resigned from his government job before his allegations surfaced. Was
The case has drawn strong media scrutiny and public outcry, including an apology from then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison for “horrific things”. All attention has complicated the legal case against Mr Lehrmann, as Australian courts are sensitive to anything outside of legal proceedings that could affect judges or potential judges.
Under strict Australian law governing criminal prosecution, once an individual has been charged, journalists are generally not allowed to publish information that could influence the judges’ opinion. Such as details of past criminal convictions. Judges often issue gag orders that temporarily ban the publication of criminal information for this reason. Some legal experts have said. That such orders reflect the wrong place of trust in the judges’ ability to reach a fair conclusion without being affected by media coverage.
On Tuesday, Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum granted Mr Lehrmann’s lawyer a request for a delay in the trial, which was due to begin on Monday, following a journalist’s remarks about Ms Higgins. ۔ at the weekend.
Lisa Wilkinson, the journalist who conducted the first television interview with Ms. Higgins in 2021, won a prestigious television award for her interview on Sunday. In his acceptance speech, he praised Ms. Higgins’ courage.
The implication of the speech, Chief Justice McCallum said, was to “celebrate the truth of the story he revealed.” The chief justice added that two radio presenters and comments on social media about Ms Wilkinson’s award blamed Mr Lehrmann. Ms. Wilkinson is expected to appear as a witness in the case.
The Chief Justice said that somewhere in this debate, the distinction between an untested allegation and the fact of a crime has been closed. It ruled that the trial should be postponed so that the commentary could be erased from the memorandum and the jury could not be affected. He said it should be by October.
This is the second time Mr Lehrmann’s legal team has tried to delay a trial over public comments. In March, a similar order was applied for. Debate Mr Morrison’s apology in parliament “ignored the presumption of innocence.”
Mr Morrison’s office later said in a statement that the apology was largely based on “a number of horrific experiences that have taken place in the House of Commons and the manner in which they have been treated.” Chief Justice McCallum dismissed the petition.