Sofronoff report damns Drumgold in Higgins/Lehrmann inquiry

2/8/2023: The report that was delivered to the ACT government on Monday (31/7/2023) but withheld from public release seems to have fallen into the hands of The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen and Stephen Rice. Their front page story reveals the damning findings by Walter Sofronoff KC. 

“ACT chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold knowingly lied to the Supreme Court, engaged in serious malpractice and grossly unethical conduct, “preyed on a junior lawyer’s inexperience”, ­betrayed that junior lawyer who trusted him, and treated criminal litigation as “a poker game in which a prosecutor can hide the cards,” the Sofronoff Inquiry has found.

Shane Drumgold

“In findings that are certain to end Mr Drumgold’s career as ACT Director of Public Prosecutions and may lead to criminal prosecution against him for perverting the course of justice, inquiry head Walter Sofronoff KC ruled that every one of the allegations made by Mr Drumgold that sparked the inquiry was baseless.

“In the report, obtained by The Australian, Mr Sofronoff found that Mr Drumgold had lost objectivity during the prosecution of Bruce Lehrmann for the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins and “did not act with fairness and detachment as was required by his role”.

“The ACT government received Mr Sofronoff’s report on Monday but has refused to release the findings until the end of the month, as senior officials pore over the 600-page document.

“Mr Sofronoff said he was “deeply disturbed” by Mr Drumgold’s ignorance of ethical principles and accused him of a “Pilate-like detachment”, invoking the moment Pontius Pilate washed his hands of Jesus’s fate, letting the mob decide who should be ­crucified.”

“Mr Sofronoff said he had considered whether he should invite Mr Drumgold to make a submission as to whether he was a fit and proper person to remain on the roll of barristers and to hold ­office as the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Walter Sofronoff KC

“He said he accepted the submission of Mr Drumgold’s counsel, Mark Tedeschi SC, that it was not within his terms of reference, and that, in any case, “it would not be right for me to do so”.

“However, several senior lawyers have told The Australian that if Mr Drumgold was found to have deliberately misled the court to prevent defence lawyers obtaining police documents, he may face an investigation for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

“The Office of the DPP will now also face a multimillion-dollar claim by Mr Lehrmann on the grounds of malfeasance, following Mr Sofronoff’s findings of gross misconduct by Mr Drumgold.”

The article doesn’t say how the Sofronoff report was obtained. An edited version of the article was also published (without by-lines) in The Daily Telegraph on 2/9/2023.

Disclosure: Andrew L. Urban has been invited to work with Bruce Lehrmann on his book about the scandal.

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14 Responses to Sofronoff report damns Drumgold in Higgins/Lehrmann inquiry

  1. John S says:

    How ironic that Sofronoff has had to “break rules” to expose rule breaking!

    It’s also concerning that we seem to be that indifferent as a society to not be loudly demanding for a better run system. It suggests that a dictator could run the country and we’d hardly raise a whimper! How sad!

    But at least the report has now been made public. Some hope for true justice!

    • andrew says:

      I don’t think Sofronoff broke the rules…his report was leaked another source which The Australian has not identified. But you’re right: we should demand better. As Covid showed, Australians are far too easily cowed …

      • Garry Stannus says:

        Yes, I read an early report which said that the leak came from another (unidentified) source. The Oz – as far as I can tell – did not run with what Sofronoff had supplied … it seems the Oz received the report from another source (as well as from Sofronoff). In such a scenario, the Oz wasn’t breaking the ‘Sofronoff embargo’, but rather, perhaps, was running with the same info supplied from another source. Who know’s what other subtleties lie behind all this ‘who said what’ … ‘who leaked what’ stuff?

  2. Brian Johnston says:

    I am sick of saying it. The only way forward for Sue is a civil action and the fund raising should start NOW.
    We have wasted to much time with Moles

    Civil case now.

    • andrew says:

      On July 30, Geraldine Allan replied to you as follows:
      Brian, for not the first time you have mentioned your belief that, “Sue has to mount a civil case.”
      Can you please detail the course of civil action you believe is currently available to SN-F?

      We are waiting …

  3. John Biggs says:

    A DPP lying is unacceptable. Why isn’t bullying a witness until she breaks down and retracts her already sworn evidence also unacceptable?

    • Owen allen says:

      Dog,dog,dog, where was the judgewherewasthe judge, I told them years ago, I warned them; Enough is Enough, 1997.

    • Father Ted Whalensky says:

      John Biggs – you are of course referring to poor Fragile Megan Vass ? The Dear DPP Law Degree person – with his fellow screenplay reader – the Law Degree Judge – made sure she wouldn’t be allowed back in that Stinking Justice Court Chamber – THATS when the Defence Law Degree Persons should have ” gone bananas- had a meltdown- blew a fuse- gone ballistic- chucked a whammy ” In other words – made a very noisy- very public fuss about what the scoundrels were doing to
      innocent dear Sue – Defence just let IT go thru to the keeper ! Just as in the Dear Lindy Chamberlain Swine Act with the infant DNA under the dash (not forgetting what they did to poor Michael) – None of this behaviour can be brushed off with that puerile “tunnel vision excuse”- From the 400 dead on the Privatised Second Fleet ( incredable greed and not punished) to the present day Wrongfully Convicted – Tortured “Confession” then South Australian State Government Murder of Ray Bailey Hung by the neck in front of his wife and children ? With stinking self congratulating and gloating Policeymens watching on ! Innocent Darryl Beamish sentenced to hang with a Government rope – another forced confession! The use of Manock and no appology – would stik in their criminal troats- A CCRC- the answer- YA reckon ? Pigs fly over here in Government Helicopters – The High and the Mighty and no common decency – 6 shooter low on the Hip ! And Black Clobber Masked bash thru your door at 5am.- military guns in crying children’s faces – Palm Island 30 million dollar Queensland Police mistake ! Just a bit of bullying boy fun – Ever been in an Australian Childrens Prison ? Make ya PROUD ! Most of these Child Victims had NEVER committed an offence – very young – just how the thug police and Warders like them – and no Law Degree defenders – Sorry – that’s not true – the State Minister jumped to defend the swine anytime – a complaint – how dare you complain ! you little ingrates – Never mind ! ME and PETER will be waiting for you at the Gates
      (not Dutto you moron) Talk about knashing and wailing for eternity !

  4. Garry Stannus says:

    Well, I’m astonished. It seems to be a rare thing to actually speak in such forthright terms: “knowingly lied”, “serious malpractice”, “grossly unethical conduct” etc.

    From The Australian (2Aug2023): “Drumgold’s betrayal of his loyal team ranged from directing an inexperienced young lawyer to swear a false affidavit to blaming an office administrator for wrongly releasing a document under Freedom of Information laws when he ordered her to do it.”

    The article that I’ve read is astonishing. You know, we’ve had our suspicions about the conduct of the case that was made against Sue Neill-Fraser…

    We know that in that case there were ‘failures’ to disclose – for example, that the defence was unaware that the homeless girl was at none of the places she’d mentioned in her brief evidence and that actually, a ‘sleepover’ for-the-night address did not exist or could not be found.

    Compound that with the refusal of Justice Blow and of DPP Tim Ellis to recall the homeless girl to the stand, when the ‘no such sleepover address’ was revealed.

    Compound that with Inspector Peter Powell’s subsequent admission that the homeless girl was associating with youngsters who were known by police to be breaking into boats along the river Derwent. However, these facts never made it as far as the jury.

    We in Tasmania could do with a chap like Sobronoff who seems to have the ability to cut through the obfuscations and shine a torch into the dark corners. Tasmania seems to have a number of them. – dark corners, that is.

    For Susan Neill-Fraser: we should have an Inquiry, now!

  5. Brian Johnston says:

    I was of the view Drumgold should not have held the position he did. Insufficient intellect.

    I see that Mark Tedeschi is in on the act. (REDACTED)

  6. Don Wakeling says:

    Can you believe it? A DPP who could abuse the standards of open disclosure and procedural fairness:
    As Drumgold’s lawyer Tedeshi might say: ” Pigs might fly ! “

  7. Donna HARRIS says:

    Truth is stranger than fiction. Good luck with the book it will be a fascinating read.

  8. Geraldine Allan says:

    Not the first prosecutor to do this, “… ACT chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold knowingly lied to the Supreme Court, engaged in serious malpractice and grossly unethical conduct, “preyed on a junior lawyer’s inexperience”, ­betrayed that junior lawyer who trusted him, and treated criminal litigation as “a poker game in which a prosecutor can hide the cards,” …”.

    Maybe the first to get caught out by inquiry?

    Now, for further states to follow suit, because there’s widespread evidence of this pervasive mo.

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