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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Blake Foden

'Haven't seen it': Drumgold in the dark on damning report

Shane Drumgold SC, who remains on leave. Picture by Karleen Minney

The ACT's top prosecutor says he remains in the dark about damning findings reportedly made by an inquiry that examined his handling of the Bruce Lehrmann rape case.

"Unfortunately I have neither seen the report, nor have I been informed of any of its content, so I am not in a position to respond," Shane Drumgold SC said in a text message to The Canberra Times on Thursday.

The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions was reacting after The Australian published an article based on a leaked copy of a 600-page report compiled by board of inquiry chairman Walter Sofronoff KC.

Mr Sofronoff reportedly found Mr Drumgold had, among other things, knowingly lied to Chief Justice Lucy McCallum and "preyed on" the inexperience of a junior prosecutor by having the lawyer "deliberately advance" a false claim that explosive police documents were privileged.

Mr Drumgold has been on leave since mid-May, when he gave evidence at the inquiry.

Inquiry chairman Walter Sofronoff KC. Picture supplied

Mr Lehrmann has described the reported findings as "overwhelming and alarming".

He maintains his innocence in the wake of Mr Drumgold discontinuing a charge that accused him of raping fellow former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins at Parliament House.

A spokeswoman for Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who still intends to hold back the report's official release until late August, quickly ruled out the ACT cabinet as the source of the leak on Wednesday night.

As Mr Barr faces growing calls to release the report immediately, questions have been raised about how many people received a copy of the document before it was leaked.

Police sources have told The Canberra Times they first learned of the reported findings through the media.

Australian Federal Police Association president Alex Caruana. Picture by Elesa Kurtz

Australian Federal Police Association president Alex Caruana's comments aligned with those claims.

The union boss called for the report's swift publication, describing ongoing uncertainty as "a welfare issue" for the officers involved.

The inquiry was sparked by Mr Drumgold's claims of impropriety on the part of police, claims Mr Sofronoff reportedly found to be baseless.

"While we haven't seen the Sofronoff report, nor the recommendations, if the public reports are accurate, it's clear that ACT Policing members conducted a proper and professional investigation," Mr Caruana said.

"Using the words in the public domain, the investigators performed their duties in absolute good faith, with great determination, although faced with obstacles, and put together a sound case."

Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates leaves the inquiry after giving evidence in June. Picture by Gary Ramage

Mr Sofronoff also examined the conduct of ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates, who defended her conspicuous presence beside Ms Higgins during Mr Lehrmann's trial.

He reportedly concluded that, while it was "unfortunate" she had stood beside Ms Higgins during a speech "capable of impugning" Mr Lehrmann's right to the presumption of innocence, she was acting out of "human decency" and concern for the alleged victim.

Ms Yates works within the ACT Human Rights Commission, which issued a statement in response to the leaked report on Thursday.

"The ACT Human Rights Commission will not be making public comment on matters relating to the board of inquiry's work until we have had the opportunity to review and consider the board's report, and until the report has been officially released by the ACT government," it said.

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