Drumgold still in trouble

If ever a man has been destroyed by his own political correctness, it is Shane Drumgold, SC.  He abused his position as prosecutor to launch a very weak rape case against Bruce Lehrmann, because "believe the woman" was all the rage. And to help a weak case to stand up he said a number of things that have come back to haunt him.  

I feel sorry for him.  He clawed his way up to a prestigious position depite humble origins in Mount Druitt.  But the battle apparently left him insecure so he was unable to resist media pressure to prosecute.  He lacked the self confidence that would have come from a private school background  -- the usual background for a barrister

I too have a humble background and went to no school at all for my university entrance qualification but I have never aspired to public prominence.  Economic and academic success has been plenty for me.  Good interpersonal relationships are the only important form of success as far as I can see and my record there has been mixed.  One wonders how Drumgold's second marriage is faring

Five Australian Federal Police ­officers have begun defamation action against the ACT government over allegations by former chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold that they engaged in “a very clear campaign to pressure” him not to prosecute the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins.

Lawyers for the five officers have sent a concerns notice to the government and to Mr Drumgold over his allegations against them, which included that they had ­engaged in “consistent and inappropriate interference” in the trial of Bruce Lehrmann.

The allegations were made in a letter Mr Drumgold sent to ACT police chief Neil Gaughan on ­November 1, 2022, expressing concern over “some quite clear ­investigator interference in the criminal justice process”.

The letter sparked the Sofronoff inquiry into police and prosecution conduct in the Lehrmann case, which largely exonerated police and found that Mr Drumgold’s assertions were baseless.

One of the AFP officers told The Australian the letter had ­“destroyed careers and destroyed people’s lives”. “When you’re in a profession where integrity is ­pivotal, if you lose your integrity, if it’s suggested that you are corrupt or you’ve trying to pervert the course of justice or influence something, it just goes against the grain,” the officer said.

“I don’t think people appreciate the impact that this whole ­debacle over the four years has had on individual police officers. We did nothing wrong, and we are paying the price.”

The concerns notice – a precursor to defamation proceedings – comes just days after the ACT government apologised to former Liberal minister Linda Reynolds and paid $90,000 in damages and legal costs over accusations by Mr Drumgold in the same letter that the senator had engaged in “disturbing conduct” that included political interference in the police investigation.

Mr Drumgold authorised the release of the unredacted letter after talking to a journalist from The Guardian, who then lodged a Freedom of Information request.

The letter, containing the DPP’s suspicions of impropriety against the named police officers and Senator Reynolds, was ­released without any of the ­consultations or redactions ­required by law. The FOI application was determined and executed within four hours of being considered for the first time.

The Sofronoff inquiry found that suspicions Mr Drumgold formed during his early interactions with the investigators “predisposed him to see non-existent malignancy in benign inter­actions between the police and the defence at the trial”.

Mr Drumgold complained police were speaking with the ­defence at the trial during ­adjournments. However, it was not surprising police felt deep antipathy towards the DPP since the feeling was mutual, the Sofronoff inquiry found. “Mr Drumgold did not seem to appreciate that mutual trust is a two-way street. It was he who, at the first opportunity, formed the baseless opinion that the investigators were improperly trying to thwart a prosecution.

“This inquiry has thoroughly examined the allegations in Mr Drumgold’s letter. Each allegation has been exposed to be ­baseless.”

Late in giving his evidence, Mr Drumgold “finally resiled from his scandalous allegations,” ­inquiry chair Walter Sofronoff noted. Mr Sofronoff said that “any official writing a letter of that kind would also know that copies of the letter would have to pass through many hands and that there was a real risk that it would be made public”.

“In fact, it was with the help of Mr Drumgold himself that the letter defaming others made its way into a newspaper.”

Mr Sofronoff found no police acted improperly: “The evidence before me showed that the investigators consistently acted in good faith and conducted a thorough investigation … Nobody suggested to me that the investigation was flawed in any way.”

The police had made mistakes, Mr Sofronoff said, including conducting a second interview with Ms Higgins that was not likely to produce anything useful and which caused her distress.

“None of these mistakes actually affected the substance of the investigation and none of them prejudiced the case … I do not find that any police officer breached a duty or acted improperly.”

One of the officers bringing the defamation action was critical of the ACT government’s attitude towards its police force. “The ACT, it’s a bubble here. It is a very closed shop and I think some of the people in these positions are batting way above their weight. Two police stations are closed because the government hasn’t invested. They have no care for the police at all. The number of police that are off due to stress, or leaving, it’s phenomenal.”



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