The lead detective who investigated Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation has admitted he should not have ‘liked’ a social media post that was supportive of Bruce Lehrmann after the case against the accused man was dropped.
An inquiry into the abandoned sexual assault trial heard ACT Policing Detective Superintendent Scott Moller liked a comment on his LinkedIn page from a person who said that Lehrmann was innocent until proven otherwise.
“I was deeply shocked by some of the prosecutors [sic] reported words. This young man deserves the justice of our court and reporting system. He should not be negatively labelled for the rest of his life,” the commenter wrote.
Moller agreed he had liked the comment in his capacity as a senior ACT police officer.
“I accept in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have liked the comment,” he told the inquiry into authorities’ handling of the case on Wednesday.
The comment was left beneath a link to a December 6 article in The Australian titled ‘Push for DPP to resign over Lehrmann trial’.
Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to raping his former colleague Brittany Higgins in the parliamentary office of their then-boss, Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, on March 23, 2019, and has always maintained his innocence.
The trial was aborted on October 27 due to juror misconduct.
The article was published days after ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC announced at a press conference he would not pursue a retrial due to Higgins’ mental health, but still believed there were reasonable prospects of convicting Lehrmann.
Drumgold, whose comments that day were criticised as inappropriate by Lehrmann’s trial barrister Steven Whybrow SC, later conceded before the inquiry he had not thought about effect they would have on Lehrmann.
Mark Tedeschi KC, the barrister for Drumgold, whose fractured relationship with police was a key trigger for the inquiry, put to Moller that was “entirely inappropriate” for him to like the comment using a social media account linked to his official policing capacity.
In response, Moller repeated part of the comment.
“He should not be negatively labelled for the rest of his life,” he said.
Moller disagreed with Tedeschi’s assertion it showed bias in favour of Lehrmann.
“What I believe it shows is that I liked the comment, that I agreed with the comment,” he said.
Tedeschi put to Moller that it was inappropriate for a superintendent who was involved in the Lehrmann investigation “to be publicly, in your capacity as a police officer, liking a comment of that nature”.
Moller replied: “In hindsight, and on reflection, I shouldn’t have liked the comment.”
The senior police officer told the inquiry on Tuesday his entire investigative team did not believe the evidence against Lehrmann was sufficient to charge him, and they were worried about hauling the former Coalition staffer before the court because of “the presumption of innocence”.
The inquiry continues.
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