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Shane Drumgold SC seeks judicial review of Sofronoff findings

Outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold commences legal proceedings against ACT | Watch (msn.com)


Outgoing ACT Director of Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC, who resigned following damning findings made against him by Walter Sofronoff KC in an inquiry report, is now challenging those findings.

Report findings

Walter Sofronoff KC found that:

→ every one of the allegations made by Drumgold that sparked the inquiry was baseless;

→ Drumgold “did not act with fairness and detachment as was required by his role”;

→ Drumgold made representations to the Chief Justice Lucy McCallum in the proceedings against Lehrmann that were “untrue” and “an invention of his own”;

→ That Drumgold was guilty of a “serious breach of duty” by failing to comply with the “golden rule” of disclosure that sits at the heart of a fair trial by failing to disclose documents where there was “simply no doubt” that internal police briefing notes by Detective Superintendent Scott Moller which detailed inconsistencies and opinions about Ms Higgins’ allegations – including one that suggested police did not think there was enough evidence to prosecute – should have been disclosed;

→ That the DPP failed to adopt the rule of thumb used by wise and experienced prosecutors – “if in doubt, disclose”;

→ That the DPP at Drumgold’s instigation “kept the defence in the dark about the steps he was taking to deny them the documents that meant they were in no position to mount a challenge”;

→ that Drumgold “constructed a false narrative to support a claim of legal professional privilege”. Most seriously, it involved him procuring a false affidavit from a junior solicitor of the DPP, which could potentially be a criminal matter.

judicial review

It has been reported that Drumgold has sought a judicial review of the inquiry report and its findings in the ACT Supreme Court.

Former New South Wales Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy has been quoted as commenting on this application for a judicial review as follows:

““The first thing you’d say is, generally speaking, it is very hard to get a positive outcome from a judicial review application, because it is not an appeal on the merits, it’s a limited appeal and the grounds of appeal are limited”.

Drumgold is seeking judicial review on multiple grounds.

Those grounds include that many findings against him were made unreasonably, that he was denied a fair hearing, that the inquiry breached the law through the unauthorised disclosure of material, and that he was denied natural justice due to “a reasonable apprehension of bias”. Drumgold also contends some of the findings made by the inquiry were outside its remit.

Drumgold will ask the ACT Supreme Court to quash the report entirely or declare it invalid and of no effect. Alternatively, Drumgold seeks to have the findings made against him specifically quashed or declared invalid.


This legal saga seems to be never-ending. It is likely that it still has a long way to run.

As we have previously observed, it is likely that Drumgold will be entitled to contest the adverse findings made by Walter Sofronoff KC in any future professional disciplinary matter brought against him. This legal move by him seems to be partly or largely motivated at salvaging his reputation but also helping him get a practising certificate in the not too distant future so that he may resume his legal career.

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