Drumgold’s demands after report lashing

ARCHIVE Shane Drumgold Press conference 2/12/2022
Shane Drumgold, the outgoing ACT top prosecutor, has commenced legal action against a high-profile inquiry into the prosecution of Bruce Lehrmann. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The ACT’s former Director of Public Prosecutions has launched legal action against a high profile inquiry that ended his legal career.

Shane Drumgold SC filed proceedings with the ACT Supreme Court last week to have the adverse findings made against him by the board of inquiry set aside.

ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury and the ACT are also listed as defendants in the case.

Mr Drumgold resigned from his job as top prosecutor in the wake of the release of the inquiry’s final report, compiled by retired Queensland judge Walter Sofronoff.

ARCHIVE Shane Drumgold Press conference 2/12/2022
Mr Drumgold has been on leave since May. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The inquiry was established to examine the conduct of Mr Drumgold and criminal justice agencies in the case against former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann.

Mr Sofronoff concluded Mr Drumgold had “knowingly lied” to the Supreme Court Justice and had “lost objectivity and did not act with fairness and detachment as was required by his role”.

In his originating application filed with the Supreme Court on August 25, lawyers for Mr Drumgold said he was not afforded “natural justice”, he did not receive a fair hearing, and that some of the findings were “legally unreasonable”.

Mr Drumgold also alleged a number of the findings were made outside of the board of inquiry’s term of reference.

He is also asking the court to consider an injunction to stop the ACT government from removing him as the ACT’s DPP and stop the government from bringing charges against him based off the report’s findings.

Mr Rattenbury confirmed he was named in the legal proceedings on Tuesday morning.

“He has concerns with the nature of the report and he is seeking to challenge those findings against him,” the ACT Attorney-General said.

“I think the nature of this matter has been that it’s been heavily contested, the parties involved have continued to seek pathways to pursue their argument, and Mr Drumgold is entitled to lodge these proceedings. It will now proceed through the court.

“I’m limited in what I can say about it, given the ACT has been named as a respondent in the matter.”

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting his former colleague Brittany Higgins at Parliament House in 2019.

His trial was aborted last October due to jury misconduct and a planned retrial was abandoned due to concerns about Ms Higgins’ mental health.

The charge was dropped and there have been no findings made against Mr Lehrmann.

Mr Sofronoff found the decision to charge and prosecute Mr Lehrmann was the correct course of action but made several serious findings of misconduct against Mr Drumgold.

But Mr Sofronoff put his own findings into disrepute when it was revealed the chair selectively leaked a copy of his final report to journalists ahead of handing it to the ACT government.

Mr Sofronoff’s report was leaked to the media.
Mr Sofronoff’s report was leaked to the media.

In a statement at the time, Mr Drumgold said denied any wrongdoing and said the report’s early release had denied him procedural fairness.

“Although I accept my conduct was less than perfect, my decisions were all made in good faith, under intense and sometimes crippling pressure, conducted within increasingly unmanageable workloads,” he said.

“The pre-emptive release of the report to the media has denied me procedural fairness. It has deprived the ACT Government of the opportunity of considering my conduct objectively.”

Mr Drumgold and Mr Sofronoff did not respond when contacted for comment.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing on September 14.