ACT director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold resigns: Top prosecutor who led trial against Bruce Lehrmann steps down

A top prosecutor who led Bruce Lehrmann’s rape trial has issued a scathing statement in response to the findings of an inquiry into the way the case was handled – as he tenders his resignation.

Shane Drumgold, the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, has been on paid leave since May, after he was grilled by a Board of Inquiry into the way Mr Lehrmann’s rape trial was handled by police and prosecutors.

The inquiry – which was held at Mr Drumgold’s request – was chaired by former Queensland judge Walter Sofronoff, who handed his findings to the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Monday.

His 600-page report contained a raft of damning findings against Mr Drumgold, including that he knowingly mislead the ACT Supreme Court and ‘lost objectivity’ during the prosecution of Mr Lehrmann.

Mr Drumgold’s resignation was announced on Sunday in a statement on behalf of the ACT Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury.

Later on Sunday, Mr Drumgold slammed Mr Sofronoff’s findings in a scathing statement – criticising the report for focussing on him rather than the way sexual assault cases are handled within the legal system.

The Board of Inquiry was launched after ACT DPP Shane Drumgold (pictured) claimed there was political interference in the investigation into Mr Lehrmann

The Board of Inquiry was launched after ACT DPP Shane Drumgold (pictured) claimed there was political interference in the investigation into Mr Lehrmann

‘Having now read the report, I dispute many of its adverse findings about me,’ he said.  

‘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.’  

‘Although I accept my conduct was less than perfect, my decisions were all made in good faith, under intense and sometimes crippling pressure, conducted within increasingly unmanageable workloads.’ 

He also spoke of his upbringing in government housing, saying ‘my career has been driven by a fire burning within … Unfortunately, I find the fire has been extinguished, and try as I might, I cannot reignite it’. 

‘On Thursday last week, I spoke with Mr Shane Drumgold to discuss the contents of the Sofronoff Report,’ it said. 

‘In light of the commentary in the report, Mr Drumgold and I agreed that his position as Director of Public Prosecutions was no longer tenable.’

‘I can confirm that on Friday, Mr Drumgold sent a letter advising me that he would be vacating his position as ACT Director of Public Prosecutions.’

Mr Lehrmann told Daily Mail Australia the DPP’s resignation ‘shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone’. 

‘It is the very least that should happen,’ he said.

Despite Mr Drumgold telling media on Thursday that he didn’t have a copy of Mr Sofronoff’s report, Mr Rattenbury confirmed on Sunday he has now received one.

Mr Barr had planned on keeping the 600-page report a secret for weeks, but the contents of the report was published on Wednesday night. 

Two days later, it was revealed Mr Sofronoff leaked the report to two media outlets under embargo. 

Mr Drumgold reportedly told colleagues he was ‘in absolute shock’ upon hearing the report was leaked by the inquiry’s chairman.

Brittany Higgins (left) accused Bruce Lehrmann of raping her in Parliament House. He denies the allegations

Brittany Higgins (left) accused Bruce Lehrmann of raping her in Parliament House. He denies the allegations

The inquiry was sparked by Mr Drumgold himself, after he sent a furious letter to ACT Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan calling for the inquiry on November 1, 2022 – a month before Mr Lehrmann’s charge was dropped.

In the letter, Mr Drumgold accused police of conspiring not to charge Mr Lehrmann, also asserting that ‘political interference’ hindered the investigation into Ms Higgins’ allegations.

However, under cross-examination during the inquiry in May, Mr Drumgold eventually conceded he was ‘possibly mistaken’ about his conspiracy concern.

Mr Sofronoff found that Mr Drumgold’s allegations were ‘not just incorrect, but wholly false and without any rational basis’, and therefore did not justify calling a public inquiry.

On Thursday, Mr Drumgold told News Corp he had not been given a copy of the report and was therefore ‘not in a position to respond’.

Mr Lehrmann has told multiple media outlets he was preparing to sue the ACT government over his prosecution.

Mr Drumgold claimed it was 'probable' there was a wider conspiracy by Australian Federal Police for the charge against Mr Lehrmann (pictured) to be dropped, but backflipped on that claim during the inquiry

Mr Drumgold claimed it was ‘probable’ there was a wider conspiracy by Australian Federal Police for the charge against Mr Lehrmann (pictured) to be dropped, but backflipped on that claim during the inquiry

‘I’ve instructed my solicitors to prepare a statement of claim against the state,’ he said.

‘I’ve got lawyers that need to be paid, people who have supported me, like my mum and uncle, who need to be supported.

‘I’m not interested in becoming a millionaire, but I do want to perhaps get on with my life and maybe buy a house.’

Brittany Higgins alleged Mr Lehrmann, her former colleague, raped her in Parliament House after a night out in 2019 – which he strongly denies.

He was tried in the ACT Supreme Court in October, but the trial was abandoned after a juror brought banned research material into the court. 

Mr Drumgold then dropped the charge entirely in December due to concerns for Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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