Heidi Yates, Australian of the Year nominee, investigated for Brittany Higgins’ support
She’s the taxpayer-funded victims’ advocate who has ALWAYS been on Brittany Higgins’ side… and was even nominated for Australian of the Year. But now a respected judge is investigating… Did Heidi cross the line?
- Heidi Yates, ACT crime victims commissioner, to be investigated
- He personally supported Brittany Higgins in court every day.
- Ms Higgins alleged that Bruce Lehrmann raped her in 2019
- The trial was held in October, but was aborted due to jury misconduct.
- Inquiry into whether Ms Yates’ strong support was appropriate
- The investigation will also look at the roles of the police and prosecutors.
An Australian of the Year candidate who supported Brittany Higgins during her rape trial is at the center of a major inquiry into how the investigation unfolded.
The ACT government announced in December that it would organize a board of inquiry, the equivalent of a royal commission, into the role played by police and prosecutors in the 12-day trial of Bruce Lehrmann.
Heidi Yates, the ACT’s crime victims commissioner, was a fixture on Ms Higgins’s side during the Supreme Court hearing in October, appearing heavily in news coverage of the case that the nation was at a standstill.
The investigation will determine whether it was appropriate for Ms. Yates to align herself so closely with the whistleblower.
On Wednesday, former judge Walter Sofronoff KC was appointed to lead the inquiry, which he will report to Chief Minister Andrew Barr by June 30.
Heidi Yates (right) could be seen standing next to Brittany Higgins (left) each day they appeared in court during the trial.
Higgins had alleged that her former colleague raped her inside Parliament after a night out in Canberra in 2019. Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence.
The case collapsed in early November when a juror brought prohibited scholarly research papers into the jury room.
The ACT’s director of public prosecution, Shane Drumgold, dropped the matter entirely a month later due to concerns about Ms Higgins’ mental health.
He later accused police of siding with the defendant and of “bullying” Ms. Higgins, in a bombshell letter that was released under freedom of information laws.
It will investigate the conduct of the police, the DPP and Ms Yates, who was also nominated for the territory’s Australian of the Year for 2023.
Specifically, the inquiry will examine the “appropriateness of ACT Crime Victims Commissioner Heidi Yates siding with the whistleblower,” according to a government statement.
It will also assess ‘whether the Commissioner for Victims of Crime acted in accordance with the relevant legal framework in terms of support provided to the complainant’.
Heidi Yates was also one of four nominees in the ACT for Australia of the Year (pictured)
The inquiry will examine the ‘appropriateness of ACT Crime Victims Commissioner Heidi Yates (pictured outside court with Ms Higgins) siding with the whistleblower’, according to a government statement.
A spokesperson for the ACT Human Rights Commission said in a statement to Daily Mail Australia: ‘The ACT Human Rights Commission welcomes the announcement of Mr Walter Sofronoff as Chairman of the Board of Inquiry.
‘The commission also appreciates the confirmation of the terms of reference of the investigation.
‘Crime Victims Commissioner Heidi Yates has the full support of the commission.
‘The Commission highly values the essential work of the Crime Victims Commissioner in providing support, advocacy and assistance to victims of crime in the ACT.’
Ms Yates sat with Ms Higgins during her two chief trial interviews with the Australian Federal Police in early 2021, which were recorded and played back in court during the trial in October.
The commissioner also personally accompanied the alleged victim each day that he appeared before the Supreme Court during the trial.
Additionally, Ms Yates stood by Ms Higgins as she delivered an emotional speech to the media after the case was aborted.
Lehrmann’s lawyers quickly referred the speech to the Australian Federal Police fearing it could bias the jury in a new trial.
The trial against Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) was derailed by juror misconduct
Daily Mail Australia previously asked the Crime Victims Commission whether it was standard practice for the commissioner to personally accompany complainants to court and to police interviews.
A commission spokeswoman declined to answer the question.
Ms Yates did not win the ACT Australian of the Year title. She was beaten up by climate activist and worm farmer Olympia Yarger. However, she was one of four nominees.
According to her online profile, she is a lawyer and human rights activist “whose work has improved the lives of vulnerable people throughout the community.”
“Their victories have inspired other communities to demand similar positive change.”
When the inquiry was announced last year, the ACT government stressed that it was not about re-challenging Ms Higgins’ rape allegations, but only about the conduct of the criminal justice system.
The investigation has the power to issue search warrants, compel witnesses to testify and subpoena documents.