Six police officers could soon be defendants in former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shane Drumgold’s civil case following the fallout of the Sofronoff Board of Inquiry.
The case itself won’t be heard until February 2024; however, several hearings are still scheduled in the meantime to work out legal proceedings and technicalities.
In the Supreme Court on Friday (10 November), Acting Justice Stephen Kaye heard six ACT Policing members had applied to be joined to the case as a collective “fourth defendant”.
The application has been made on behalf of Michael Chew, Scott Moller, Marcus Boorman, Robert Rose, Trent Madders and Emma Frizzell, who had all provided written statements to the Board of Inquiry’s investigation into the ACT’s criminal justice system following the termination of the case against Bruce Lehrmann.
No findings have been made against Mr Lehrmann and he has maintained his innocence.
Mr Drumgold’s civil case has called for the Board of Inquiry’s final report, or alternatively, the sections of the report that refer to him, to be found “invalid, or unlawful, or otherwise affected by apprehended bias or a denial of natural justice”.
The report also made comments and findings about all six police officers.
“Many of those findings and comments are about matters that are relevant to their reputations and their careers, and some of those findings express conclusions about the veracity or otherwise of serious allegations made with respect to the character and conduct of some of the Applicants,” documents tendered to the court stated.
The police officers wish for the report’s findings to stand, given they are “generally favourable” and form part of the public record in relation to their conduct as they investigated the allegations of sexual assault made by Brittany Higgins.
Their application argued that if the declarations sought by Mr Drumgold about the report were granted, in full or in part, the officers would then be liable to submit to any further inquiries that could arise.
“[This] may include exposure to a new risk of adverse comments or findings,” the tendered documents stated.
Arguments about whether the police officers can join the case are scheduled to be heard on 15 December.