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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Jasper Lindell

Outgoing DPP Drumgold should face more than 'preliminary' review: Elizabeth Lee

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee, pictured in the Legislative Assembly. Picture by Elesa Kurtz

ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee says a preliminary review into matters handled by Shane Drumgold SC has not done enough to determine whether problems with his conduct were "a one-off or if it's the tip of the iceberg".

Mr Drumgold resigned as director of public prosecutions late last week after the findings of a board of inquiry examining the handling of the Parliament House rape trial were leaked to the media.

Walter Sofronoff KC, who chaired the board of inquiry, found Mr Drumgold had lied to Chief Justice Lucy McCallum, "preyed on" a junior solicitor's inexperience and improperly tried to keep documents from defence lawyers, among other things.

"It became clear to me that, at times, Mr Drumgold lost objectivity and did not act with fairness and detachment as was required by his role," Mr Sofronoff, a former Queensland judge, wrote in his report to the ACT government.

Ms Lee on Tuesday said she was concerned about the nature of the review the government had conducted into Mr Drumgold's handling of other cases.

"There was no detail about the preliminary review. Who undertook it? What was the criteria? And why was it only limited to the cases that Mr Drumgold was involved in as director of public prosecutions?" Ms Lee said.

"We know that he has been in that office for a long time. We don't know the extent of delegations that he had, for example as deputy director of public prosecutions."

Ms Lee called for a more comprehensive review of Mr Drumgold's work, after the government said it would not be necessary.

"That will go a long way to restoring public confidence. We need to know, and the Canberra community has every right to know, whether this is a one-off in terms of those serious issues of misconduct or if it's the tip of the iceberg," she said.

The ACT government on Monday said it had already considered 18 criminal cases Mr Drumgold conducted, or participated in, since being appointed director of public prosecutions in 2019.

"On the material available at this point, the government does not consider that a more detailed examination is warranted," the government said.

Mr Drumgold confirmed his resignation on Sunday, accepting his conduct was "less than perfect" but said he had made all decisions in good faith.

"While I acknowledge I made mistakes, I strongly dispute that I engaged in deliberate or underhanded conduct in the trial or that I was dishonest," Mr Drumgold said in a statement.

Ms Lee also renewed her calls for Mr Drumgold to be immediately sacked and for taxpayers to stop paying his salary.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury on Monday said Mr Drumgold would not return from leave, due to end on August 30, and would have owed entitlements paid out to him in that time.

Ms Lee called on Chief Minister Andrew Barr to release the advice on whether Mr Sofronoff could face penalties for leaking the board of inquiry report to the media without authorisation, but this was not her focus.

"What I'm focused on is the fact that we have our Chief Minister and our Attorney-General that spent most of their press conference trying to deflect blame and not addressing the very serious issues that have been outlined in a very comprehensive final report that has been handed over by the chair of this inquiry," she said.

Ms Lee said Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury had failed to take into consideration "enormous public interest" when they had decided to keep the report secret for a month.

"Even if that had been the decision, initially, the fact that it was widely reported in media from Wednesday evening and then for the Chief Minister and the Attorney-General to continue to sit on the report made it an absolute farcical event," she said.

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