Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Blake Foden

'Legally unreasonable': Drumgold sensationally accuses inquiry of bias

Shane Drumgold SC, left, has accused the inquiry led by Walter Sofronoff KC, right, of bias. Pictures by Karleen Minney, Murray Gleeson Chambers

The ACT's outgoing top prosecutor will ask a court to quash the report of an inquiry that made damning findings about his conduct, accusing the probe of bias and arguing its conclusions are "legally unreasonable".

Shane Drumgold SC, who resigned as Director of Public Prosecutions after being slammed over his conduct in the case against former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann, has launched legal action in the ACT Supreme Court.

His originating application, obtained by The Canberra Times, seeks judicial review of the board of inquiry report written by chairman Walter Sofronoff KC.

Mr Drumgold is seeking that the entire report be quashed or, alternatively, that the conclusions made in relation to him be declared invalid.

He has also applied for restraining orders or an injunction to prevent ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury from taking any action against him on the basis of the inquiry report.

ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury. Picture by Karleen Minney

In support of his application, Mr Drumgold's lawyers, from Canberra firm Bradley Allen Love, list 10 grounds.

Mr Drumgold argues the inquiry, or its staff, failed to comply with the Inquiries Act and did not accord him natural justice, giving rise to "a reasonable apprehension of bias".

He claims a series of findings made by Mr Sofronoff are "legally unreasonable".

These include the inquiry chairman's findings that Mr Drumgold "preyed on" the inexperience of a junior prosecutor and knowingly lied to ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

Mr Drumgold, who previously said he disputed the findings, also takes issue with Mr Sofronoff stating that he "failed in his duty" by failing to advise television presenter Lisa Wilkinson not to make the infamous Logies speech that delayed Mr Lehrmann's trial.

He further alleges the inquiry failed to give him a fair hearing in respect of some findings, which included that he had "shamefully tried falsely to attribute blame" to an employee following a bungled freedom of information release.

Mr Drumgold claims this finding, as well as one about him lying to the ACT's chief police officer, fall outside the inquiry's terms of reference.

The outgoing director's case has been listed by the court for a preliminary hearing next month.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Tuesday documents filed by Mr Drumgold's legal representatives had not yet been served on the ACT government.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Picture by Karleen Minney

"Accordingly, it is not appropriate for me to make further comment in relation to the findings of and processes associated with the report and its release," Mr Barr said.

Following those comments, the government received the relevant material.

The recent board of inquiry examined authorities' handling of the aborted Parliament House rape trial, in which Mr Lehrmann, a former Liberal Party staffer, maintained his innocence after being accused of rape by former colleague Brittany Higgins.

While Mr Drumgold has acknowledged his conduct was "less than perfect", he has denied acting in an underhanded or dishonest manner during the aborted case.

The ACT government formally tabled Mr Sofronoff's board of inquiry report in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, almost a month since it was sensationally leaked to The Australian.

Mr Sofronoff confirmed to the government he had given a copy of the report to The Australian before handing it to Mr Barr, on condition that it would not be published until the government formally released the document.

The inquiry chairman also told the government he had learned, through years of experience, to identify which journalists were ethical and which ones would not "take the serious step of betraying his trust", Mr Barr said earlier this month.

Mr Barr has said Mr Sofronoff's actions in releasing his own report were a "breach of faith" and the government was considering its options, including whether the former Queensland judge could face the ACT Integrity Commission or penalties under the Inquiries Act.

The Canberra Times does not suggest Mr Sofronoff has breached the law.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.