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Trial of Brittany Higgins‘ alleged rapist to exclude jurors who follow her on Twitter

Anyone who follows Brittany Higgins on Twitter or “champions the cause” of women’s equality will be asked to recuse themselves from the jury in her sexual assault trial.

Defence lawyers representing Bruce Lehrmann faced the ACT Supreme Court on Friday morning in preparation for the seven-week trial, which is set to begin on October 4.

Mr Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Ms Higgins inside Parliament House in 2019.

Ms Higgins, who has gained national attention for her work in advocating for gender equality, will take the stand to give evidence during the high-profile proceedings, it was revealed on Wednesday.

ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the court on Friday that anyone who follows Ms Higgins on Twitter or attended any event where she has spoken would be asked to recuse themselves from the jury.

The court heard pertinent events would include the March 4 Justice last year and Ms Higgins‘ joint speech at the Press Club with former Australian of the Year Grace Tame earlier this year.

Justice McCallum said the jury empanelment would need to exclude “anyone who’s participated in any of those events or follows her on Twitter … anyone who has effectively indicated that they follow the cause or champion the cause”.

The process would also need to eliminate anyone who has “strong views one way or the other”.

Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann has been charged with sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins at Parliament House. He denies the allegation.
Camera IconFormer Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann has been charged with sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins at Parliament House. He denies the allegation. Credit: Supplied

The Chief Justice acknowledged there are “more than two sides to the matter” but emphasised the care that would need to be taken when selecting the jury members for the well-publicised and controversial case.

“It’s very hard … I’m going to have to ask people to search their souls and say whether they think they can be impartial,” she said.

However, she reassured the court that there would be enough members of the public to choose from after the process cast a wide net.

“We were contemplating whether we would need to empanel outside this courtroom because the panel is so big,” she said.

The Chief Justice also issued a subpoena to ensure a police informant will take the stand next Friday and give evidence to the court.

The matter has been adjourned until the morning of September 29.

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