The Lehrmann/Higgins “omnishambles” and the omniquestions

Andrew L. Urban.

Justice Lee called the Lehrmann/Higgins drama an omnishambles, finding that Lehrmann effectively raped Higgins by not getting consent while she lay in a drunken stupor. It is “an outcome that must be respected but one that is necessarily diminished by circumstance,” as the Editorial in The Australian put it, (16/4/24). 

Why have people expressed disquiet about the judgement? (See comments on article) Why is the outcome diminished by circumstance? Our follow-up to yesterday’s report on the judgement probes some of the questions.


For all the careful qualifications about the balance of probabilities guiding his judgement, Justice Lee made a crucial choice, by selecting one possibility over others. It possibly rests on a response to a question from Chief of Staff Fiona Brown, asking Lehrmann what they did after entering the ministerial office and having a drink. Lehrmann’s answer: “I don’t wish to get into that.” As I wrote in yesterday’s report, there are a number of possible different explanations for his answer, which is why Lee emphasised that this is a civil case and he doesn’t need to base his decision on the highest level of proof beyond reasonable doubt, which requires the exclusion of all other possibilities consistent with innocence. He chose one possibility. That Lehrmann had sexual intercourse with a drunken, unconscious or semi-conscious Higgins.

But Lehrmann may not have wished “to get into that” with Fiona Brown for a number of understandable, potentially embarrassing reasons, which would have painted him in a poor light but short of non-consensual sexual intercourse.

For instance, Lehrmann and Higgins may both have privately, unstated, intended or hoped to have (consensual) sex but Higgins fell asleep too quickly. Or he may have found her having vomited on his return from his own office area. Either way, he abandoned the idea and left with Higgins asleep, naked on the couch. “On Monday, 25 March, notably before Fiona Brown or anyone other than Lehrmann and Higgins working for the Minister knew of the incident, the Ministerial private office was cleaned. As is evident from the contemporaneous records, this occurred by reason of actions commenced as early as 12:40pm on 23 March, involving the Chief of Staff of DPS (who had initially been called while Ms Higgins was still in the Ministerial Suite), as “someone may have vomited in there”)” After all, they had been drinking all evening, eventually became amorous, “pashing” at the 88mph bar, as Lauren Gain put it in her testimony, with Higgins agreeing to share an Uber with Lehrmann, skipping happily to join him in the privacy of Minister Reynolds’ suite …

As Justice Lee said, “One only has to recall her telephone conversation with Ms Maiden when she “was really relieved” because given Mr Lehrmann’s account, there would be no need “to have this very nuanced debate about consent and alcohol and all this kind of stuff” (T703.22–27), and in the first interview with the Project team, when she said she thought a finding of sexual assault had occurred may be able to be obtained to the civil standard, but not to the criminal standard (T1015.19–24).”

In our respectful submission, as they say in court, it was open for Justice Lee to find that he could not confidently choose any of the possible scenarios that may be contemplated, considering ALL the circumstances.


One reader (name supplied) has questioned Justice Lee’s inclusion of ‘tonic immobility’ as one of the factors that helped him decide what happened. She dismisses ‘tonic immobility’ as junk science.

“It [tonic immobility] exists only in self reports derived from the most slipshod studies you’ve ever seen. Sample sizes of 100 or 200, drawn entirely from female university psychology students who self report as being rape survivors with no evidence, the studies say things like we gave a questionnaire to 200 female psych students, not all of them said they’d been raped, but 40% of those who did reported this alleged physiological condition!”

But perhaps the oddest aspect of this reference is Justice Lee’s detailed exploration of ‘tonic immobility’ is that after a 200 word dissertation with citations, he suddenly declares: “I am not to rely on matters not in evidence.” He then writes: “What I am required to do, in applying the fact-finding principles I have explained, the facts found and agreed, and commonsense, is to assess the reliability of Ms Higgins’ evidence as to her state of mind.” Does ‘tonic immobility’ represent a state of mind? How does such a condition manifest in a drunk person?

I could find no studies of ‘tonic immobility’ in heavily intoxicated subjects.

Our correspondent is not a fan of the reliability of studies into ‘tonic immobility’ . “This means BOTH the ACT trial with the juror bringing feminist woke quackademic papers into the jury room AND Justice Lee having his mind poisoned by the same genre of papers, coalesce to mean feminist university propaganda dressed up as what Lee called “social science”, tanked both of Bruce’s trials.”


Justice Lee’s judgement delivers a cluster bomb into the heart of some media practices.  As the editorial in The Australian put it, “Ten has accepted the Federal Court judgment as a victory but the network has been exposed for its sloppy research and the willingness of some in the organisation to use the rape accusation to prosecute a broader political agenda against the Morrison government.” That goes to the heart of criticisms that much of the media has a left leaning bias that interferes with its professional judgement.


A corruption inquiry into the reckless, politically partisan and secretive decision by the Labor government to pay $2.44 million to Brittany Higgins as compensation is now urgent and unavoidable.

This is the result of claims of which Justice Lee said were “evident that several things being alleged were untrue”. Also, the two ministers, Linda Reynolds and Michaela Cash, whose behaviour were the alleged cause of Higgins’ mistreatment were effectively barred from the mediation … so it was not a mediation but a kangaroo court.

Higgins claimed in court that the Commonwealth “came to an agreement that a failure of a duty of care was made” (T1025.28–29) when the Commonwealth made no such admission of liability.” The public is entitled to know what exactly was the payout for but the Government is refusing to explain. It would be less painful for the government to reveal its rational than having it squeezed out in an adversarial setting.

Still to come:
Defamation trials –
Linda Reynolds sues Higgins and Sharaz
Senior police officers sue Shane Drumgold

DISCLOSURE: Andrew L. Urban has been invited to work with Bruce Lehrmann on his book about his experience. So far, Lehrmann has not confided in Urban regarding the matter.

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7 Responses to The Lehrmann/Higgins “omnishambles” and the omniquestions

  1. PV says:

    In my humble opinion , Justice Lee’s verdict was an opinion and nothing more .
    Civil case or not , there was no evidence of consent or refusal, there was no evidence of intercourse , in fact when she picked up her shoes and ran down the hall without struggling or faltering there was no evidence that she was SO!!! drunk or that in the passage of time , she consumed sufficient alcohol to change her status from that which we saw in the hallway.
    The Judge saw fault in Lehrmann leaving her there without expressing a view as to what else he was supposed to do. Put her over his shoulder and carry her out to the UBER ????
    To me the decision was pure expression of the judges own prejudices and desire to appear on the side of the allegedly wronged in spite of the complete absence of any forensic fact. The verdict preamble was to say the least , inconsistent and in a way worthless as in the end it came down to …. I think he did something without consent !
    Can you imagine if the judge’s seemingly endless communications were to form a direction to a JURY. I believe even a Jury of reasonably well educated people would not remember what was said at the beginning of his summation or in the middle or even close to the end ! All they would have absorbed would have been his final words …. I believe Mr LUHRMANN raped . To me nothing he said in his assessment of events unearthed what by reasonable thinking would have been sufficient to say any more than THERE IS NO FINDING POSSIBLE .
    Judges feel compelled to come to a conclusion with little or no definitive evidence !
    What a danger that is to ultimate and proper use of laws . No evidence ,no witness ,no semen , no way to be even close to sufficient basis for what LEE concluded.
    I don’t hold Judges in high esteem , as i have personal experience . I will also remind the public that before these people became Judges , they were DPP prosecutors or defence lawyers , and, we all know how trustworthy some lawyers can be.
    I have a business completely based on legal documents . Have done it , for 45 yrs .
    I can say that until my most recent legal representative , who has been ‘completely honest and transparent’ , i did not have dealings with one , who did not bill me for something
    which could not have been done .
    Yes , I am then Cynical and distrusting , but , unlike Justice LEE, i have real evidence to prove it. PV

  2. Jerry says:

    So you are still in denial about the stolen biscuits ? You don’t need a social worker.. need a year in a pen ! Being an adult means you have your own biscuit tin . We will have Lisa hand down her judgement after this important toothpaste commercial. You have mentioned this biscuit heist in the past- Guilty Conscience ? Bruce Lehrmann may well be innocent – hasn’t had a fair and proper trial . Should have never been charged. A fair verdict would have been, Not Proven . We all know-
    You did steal that Chinese Anzac Cookie. Escaped to Tasmania leaving a trail of-

  3. Jerry says:

    Will Bruce Lehrmann now be denied a Texas, USA entry Visa ? Or will his sexual offence codswallop just be regarded as nothing more than a toothy Judge Judy verdict from some down under kangaroo court? 25 million Australians don’t watch channel 10 – but do they run tooth paste adds during these one sided debacles? More shiny teeth than a 48 Buick and no reasonable doubt !

  4. Owen Allen says:

    The Judge, concluded he raped her; the decision was the basis of probability.
    I have the mind of a 4 year child and I can understand the rules of Justice.
    Guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, evidence.
    If a biscuit was missing from the tin, it wasnt me Mum, I have 3 brothers, but anyhow, as mentioned, there was no medical examination to prove intercourse consensual or not. This is just a farce; FARCE, pushing the boundaries of deceit and perjury. Australia needs a Leader and Pauline Hanson is shaping up with the abused children issue, the government is disgusting and so is the judiciary.

  5. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Andrew, I’m with you there, 100%. There is now an urgent need for the current government to provide proper and transparent reasons as to why compensation was paid out, and why it was so swiftly paid out. This was tax-payers money and the tax-paying public not only deserve such information but the tax-paying public are entitled to have access to the audited report of the compensation payout but where do we stop when both major parties are guilty of many such non-transparencies.
    Yes, the ‘Lehrmann’ case has opened up many parliamentary decisions deserving to be probed by the public but I’m not holding my breath.
    Having now read up on ‘Civil v Criminal’ court cases Mr Lehrmann had his opportunity but he was simply outgunned by ‘Goliath’.
    Justice Lee I would suggest resoundingly ruled in favour of the NSW consent legislation and when I learned about the forerunner to that I applaud his decision.

    • andrew says:

      Yes, I hope pressure – both public (via media I guess) and political – will force an inquiry into the payout. It stinks like the dead rodent in the drainpipe at my old house.

      You applaud Lee’s decision … but it is only ‘applaudable’ in my view if the premise on which it based is factual. Of the various possible scenarios as to what happened, it is but one.

  6. One too many says:

    I think the question we all have, is, what was she expecting going with him after pashing with him and then following him like a puppy to the ministerial office? Some coffee and cake perhaps!! Me thinks they both have questions to answer.

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