Bruce Lehrmann’s barrister, Steve Whybrow, received a 7am phone call from a furious prosecutor after the rape trial, demanding to know whether the defence team had leaked sensitive police documents critical of Brittany Higgins.
In the exchange, which is detailed in newly released text messages to a board of inquiry, prosecutor Skye Jerome slammed the leaks as “outrageous”.
“I asked you a question,” Ms Jerome told Mr Whybrow.
But Mr Whybrow insisted the defence team had “100 per cent” nothing to do with the leak to a newspaper and told the lawyer that he hoped she was making ”the same accusation to the cops.”
The text messages between Mr Whybrow and the prosecutor Skye Jerome detail for the first time the Office of Public Prosecutions fury over the leak.
The police document, known as the Moller report, was published by The Weekend Australian newspaper less than 24 hours after the DPP announced it would discontinue the prosecution on December 2, 2022.
After reading the leaked report in The Weekend Australian at 7.13am, prosecutor Sky Jerome texted defence barrister Steve Whybrow and bluntly demanded to know who was responsible.
“Who leaked the documents to The Australian?,” she said in a text exchange with Mr Whybrow.
But Mr Whybrow insisted he didn’t know what she was referring to and said he had not read the article.
“What’s happened now?” Mr Whybrow replied.
Prosecutor Sky Jerome texted defence barrister Steve Whybrow and bluntly demanded to know who was responsible.Mr Whybrow insisted he didn’t know what she was referring to and said he had not read the article.
Ms Jerome told him the newspaper was “quoting all the police advice” and that the leak was “outrageous”.
“Firewalled. None of us. 100 per cent,” Mr Whybrow replied.
“Hope you make the same accusation to the cops.”
The suggestion she should ask the police sparked a blunt response from Ms Jerome.
“I asked you a question,” she replied.
Mr Whybrow insisted he had “no idea where that comes from. Still can‘t read it.”
Ms Jerome then screenshotted the entire article and texted it to Mr Whybrow.
“Wow. Thanks for sending! F*ck!,” he replied.
Bruce Lehrmann alongside Defence lawyer Steve Whybrow. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamageProsecutor Skye Jerome said the leaks were ‘outrageous’.
The messages were obtained after the ACT board of inquiry issued a subpoena to obtain Mr Whybrow‘s communications with prosecutors and police over certain matters that arose during the trial.
The inquiry is examining claims that the police “aligned themselves with the defence” and did not support Mr Lehrmann being charged and the DPP’s own conduct.
The communications also reveal he had earlier met with police about documents journalists were seeking and sought advice on how the media could gain access to them.
‘Mate, can we have a chat?’
Six weeks earlier, Mr Whybrow had been in contact with the columnist Janet Albrechtsen from The Australian newspaper.
It was October 19, 2022 – the same day that the jury in the trial began deliberating over a verdict.
“I received a call from Janet Albrechtsen (journalist) asking me about a document she referred to as the ” Moller Report,” Mr Whybrow said in his statement to the inquiry.
“From what she was telling me, I understood this to mean the Investigative Review Document or some parts of it.
“Ms Albrechtsen requested I confirm the document existed. I informed her I was not prepared to comment on the matter at all. I suggested she may wish to enquire with AFP media, the Police involved in the investigation, or lodge a Freedom of Information request for the document she was describing.”
Shortly after the call from Ms Albrechtsen, Mr Whybrow said he communicated with Detective Inspector Marcus Boorman.
“Mate can you give me a call or better can we have a chat,” Mr Whybrow texted at 10.09am on October 20.
After the chat he followed up with further texts.
“Hey mate, let me know if there is a number this lady might call if there is any point,” Mr Whybrow said.
But Detective Boorman said that “the lady” who was seeking the document would need to try and obtain it through freedom of information applications.
Marcus Boorman (left) said ‘the lady’ who was seeking the document would need to try and obtain it through freedom of information applications.
“Appreciate our discussion. Just spoke to Scott. The lady will need to go through the FOI processes,” he said.
The document in question was known to the DPP, the AFP and the defence team that obtained it after a legal tussle over the release of the material to the defence.
The report detailed claims that the most senior police officer on the case believed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Lehrmann.
However, he claimed he could not stop the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions from proceeding because there is too much political interference.
The briefing stated investigators had a number of concerns regarding inconsistencies in disclosures and other evidence obtained during the investigation.
Slamming the explosive document as “inadmissable opinion evidence”, the ACT chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold has detailed the extraordinary power struggle between the AFP and the DPP.
Mr Lehrmann maintains his innocence and was never convicted over the allegation. He attended the hearing in Canberra last Monday as a member of the public.
Text messages to ACT chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold released in the report.
Peter FitzSimons leaks
On June 27, 2022, just weeks after Mr Whybrow was engaged as Mr Lehrmann‘s barrister, the DPP raised concerns that information about subpoenas was being leaked to the media.
It regarded leaks over Lisa Wilkinson‘s husband, author Peter FitzSimons.
“Are you aware of this ?,” Mr Drumgold wrote, attaching a link to an article in The Australian newspaper that said there were text messages from FitzSimons about a book deal for Brittany Higgins.
“First I‘ve seen it,’’ Mr Whybrow replied.
“I mentioned something about the book deal and text messages in court and the fact that FitzSimons was subpoenaed was mentioned by the CJ.”
But Mr Drumgold queried this.
“From our records – texts between Higgins and FitzSimons have never been mentioned in open court,” Mr Drumgold said.
Mr Whybrow responds he will make enquiries.
“I‘ll check the transcript but I’m sure I said he was negotiating the book deal for her. The Australian won’t need much to hang those lefties who brought down their PM,’’ Mr Whybrow said.