Former federal Liberal Party staffer Bruce Emery Lehrmann can now be revealed as the man facing rape charges in Queensland after a failed legal battle to keep his name suppressed.
Lehrmann, who has not been required to appear in court and remains on bail, faces two counts of raping a woman at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, in October 2021, which he has denied.
The former federal ministerial staffer was the subject of national media attention after being charged with the rape of Brittany Higgins in the office of then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds at Parliament House in March 2019, while both were employed by the senator.
He has always denied the allegation and the charges were dropped after a mistrial.
Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday declined to overturn a magistrate's decision that an ongoing non-publication order was not "necessary to protect the safety of (Lehrmann)".
Lawyers for the 28-year-old had mounted a weeks-long legal effort to maintain Lehrmann's anonymity after Queensland changed its laws this month to no longer ban the publication of the names of people charged with certain sex offences unless they face trial.
Lehrmann was charged with the Toowoomba rape in January 2023 but could not be named at the time due to the Queensland law.
When the state repealed the law earlier this month, Lehrmann was granted an interim non-publication order to prepare a case for why his identity should be protected.
The Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday heard submissions to determine whether 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.
Barrister Andrew Hoare told the Supreme Court on Thursday that Lehrmann's psychiatrist had "grave concerns" for his client's mental health if he was named by media as facing rape charges.
Justice Peter Applegarth on Thursday dismissed the application for a review of the decision and said "no error was apparent" in the magistrate's decision to deny Lehrmann an ongoing non-publication order.
"The magistrate considered evidence about the nature, imminence and degree of likelihood of identified harm and ... was not satisfied that an order was necessary to protect the safety of [Lehrmann]," the judge said.
Justice Applegarth said the magistrate was correct to find Lehrmann's decision to take part in four televised interviews on Sky News and Seven Network between June and August was at odds with his claim to be in a poor psychological state.
"Instead he presented to the public, for reasons [not] adequately explained to the magistrate, as someone who was keen to litigate defamation cases and 'light some fires'," Justice Applegarth said.
Lehrmann denied the allegation by Higgins and maintained there was no sexual interaction between the two Liberal staffers.
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, which led to the resignation of chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold.
Lehrmann's barrister Andrew Hoare on Thursday said his client's mental health would face "catastrophic consequences" if he were publicly identified.
Barrister Michael Nicolson, acting for Queensland Police in opposing the application, said the magistrate had been "very calculated" in forming her decision.
The barrister for several media outlets, Rob Anderson KC, said the magistrate had fairly considered the incongruity between the psychiatrist's report and Lehrmann's television interviews that centred on issues he privately said were damaging to his mental health.
"There was no error ... [the magistrate] did appropriately take into account all the material before her," Mr Anderson said.
Zander Croft, another lawyer for several media companies who opposed keeping Lehrmann's name suppressed, said the verdict was a win for open justice and the public's right to know what happens in courtrooms.
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