Bruce Lehrmann named as well-known Australian facing rape charges in Toowoomba

Bruce Lehrmann can now be publicly named as the high-profile man accused of rape in Toowoomba.

Bruce Lehrmann can now be publicly named as the high-profile man accused of rape in Toowoomba. Photo: Getty

Former federal ministerial staffer Bruce Emery Lehrmann can now be named as the high-profile man facing rape charges in Queensland following a Supreme Court decision.

Lehrmann, who has not been required to appear in court for the hearing and remains on bail, faces two counts of raping a woman at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, in October 2021.

Lehrmann was charged with rape in January 2023 but could not be named at that time under a Queensland law that suppressed the names of people charged with certain sex offences unless they were committed to stand trial.

When Queensland repealed that law earlier this month, Lehrmann was granted an interim non-publication order in order to prepare a case for why his identity should be protected.

The Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday heard submissions to determine whether or not to grant an application to overturn a Toowoomba magistrate’s decision earlier this month that would allow media outlets to name Lehrmann.

The magistrate denied Lehrmann’s application on October 14 but granted another interim order to allow him to challenge the decision in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Justice Peter Applegarth on Thursday dismissed the application for a review of the decision and said it was open for the magistrate to find that an ongoing non-publication order was not necessary to prevent risk to Lehrmann’s safety.

Lehrmann was the subject of national media attention after being charged with the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins in an office at Parliament House in March 2019 while both were employed as staff for Liberal senator Linda Reynolds.

The case ended in a mistrial in October 2022 after a jury member unlawfully researched subjects including the prevalence of false rape claims.

The ACT later held a public inquiry into the handling of the case that led to the resignation of chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold.

On Thursday barrister Andrew Hoare said his client’s mental health would face “catastrophic consequences” if he were publicly identified.

“A risk of self-harm has been identified … through aggravation of existing symptoms,” he said.

Barrister Michael Nicolson, acting for Queensland Police in opposing the application, said the magistrate had been “very calculated” in forming her decision.

“She did what she was told to do and looked at the material,” Nicolson said.

The barrister for several media outlets, Rob Anderson KC, said the magistrate had fairly considered the incongruity between the psychiatrist’s report and the man’s decision to give television interviews that included information about his health.

“There was no error … (the magistrate) did appropriately take into account all the material before her,” Anderson said.

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