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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Jasper Lindell

Sofronoff remains silent over leaked board of inquiry report

Walter Sofronoff KC, the chair of the ACT's board of inquiry examining the handling of the Parliament House rape trial. Picture supplied

The eminent Australian jurist who oversaw a board of inquiry in the ACT examining the handling Parliament House rape trial is remaining silent about his decision to leak his own report to the media.

Walter Sofronoff KC has not made any public comments since confirming to the ACT government he had provided a copy of the inquiry report, said to be 600 pages long, to what the territory said was "select media outlets".

The Australian reported on the contents of the board of inquiry report about 9.30pm on Wednesday. On Friday, the newspaper said it had not breached an embargo and it would not reveal the source of the leak.

The ABC published a story independently citing a copy of the report on Thursday afternoon. The ABC would not comment when asked if it had received the report from the board of inquiry.

The Canberra Times attempted to contact Mr Sofronoff by telephone on Thursday and also did not receive a reply to written questions sent directly to the board of inquiry chair and his secretary.

An ACT government spokeswoman sensationally revealed the board of inquiry to be the source of the leaked report in a statement issued just before 5pm on Thursday.

"The release of information about the inquiry outside of the government procedures has affected the inquiry process and harmed people involved. It further contributes to the ongoing public discussion of the matter that has been very difficult for all of the individuals impacted," the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said the government was confident the report was not obtained by journalists from the government.

"The government has sought advice from the board of inquiry, which has confirmed it provided a copy to some media outlets under an embargo. This release was not authorised by or communicated to government prior to this release," she said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Monday said the government intended to release the report publicly when the Legislative Assembly sat later in August.

However, the government spokeswoman on Thursday afternoon said the report would instead be released publicly early next week.

The Inquiries Act 1991 says a board of inquiry must prepare a report of the inquiry and submit it to the Chief Minister.

"When submitting a report to the Chief Minister, a board must commit any documents and things then in its possession to the custody of the Chief Minister for safekeeping," the law says.

Mr Sofronoff was Queensland solicitor-general from 2005 to 2014 and president of the state's court of appeal from 2017 to May 2022.

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