2 February 2023

Allegations of 'professional misconduct' driven by 'malice' revealed in leaked Bruce Lehrmann letter

| Claire Fenwicke

Bruce Lehrmann alleges ACT DPP Shane Drumgold didn’t guarantee him a fair trial in the ACT Supreme Court. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

It’s been revealed Bruce Lehrmann has accused ACT Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shane Drumgold SC of caring “more about his image” than running a “fair and proper” criminal trial.

Leaked details of the formal complaint to the ACT Bar Association, revealed in The Australian, outlined seven complaints Mr Lehrmann had about Mr Drumgold, dated 9 December 2022.

In the letter, Mr Lehrmann wrote he felt it was “apparent” Mr Drumgold displayed “professional misconduct” by speaking with media after the case against him was dropped.

“His public behaviour continues to smear my name and the presumption of innocence that is a cornerstone of our justice system and that demands him to uphold,” Mr Lehrmann alleged.

“More importantly to me, he impugns the conduct of my legal team, who have been family to me and without them, I would not be here today.”

READ ALSO Former top ranking diplomat Richard Woolcott dies aged 95

Mr Lehrmann also claimed Mr Drumgold “repeatedly and frequently” failed in his duty to ensure a fair trial.

“I contend that his conduct was driven by malice towards me personally,” he wrote.

“I also consider that his conduct was political.

“I take the view that the director’s behaviour was consistent with a legal practitioner who was acting in the interests of a particular person, bolstered by political interests on the part of the director and possible third-party political interference, rather than in the overall interests of justice.”

Other allegations made by Mr Lehrmann included that Mr Drumgold failed to warn the complainant Brittany Higgins that repeated public comment and conduct would undermine the integrity of the trial, that Mr Drumgold failed to take appropriate steps (such as take down orders) to remove publication of certain materials, Mr Drumgold’s statement following the case’s mistrial that he felt a successful prosecution was still possible was defamatory, and failure to disclose/withholding of evidence from the defence and improper handling of sensitive material.

“The director cared more about his image than the fair and proper running of a criminal trial,” Mr Lehrmann alleged.

READ ALSO Tudge tells royal commission that Westminster doesn’t mean he was responsible for Robodebt’s illegality

This isn’t the first time letters from people involved in the case have been leaked.

An explosive letter from Mr Drumgold to ACT Policing Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan alleged police pressed him not to press charges against Mr Lehrmann.

Region has contacted the DPP’s office, Mr Lehrmann’s representatives and the ACT Bar Association for comment.

A Board of Inquiry has been established in the ACT to examine the conduct and motives of criminal justice agencies – including Mr Drumgold and ACT Policing – before, during and after the trial.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.