3 August 2023

People 'harmed' by select leaking of Sofronoff report; government brings forward release timeline

| Claire Fenwicke
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Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr had earlier said he was confident the Sofronoff report wouldn’t be leaked. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The ACT Government will release the Sofronoff Inquiry report sometime next week, bringing forward the date it planned to make the findings public.

Calls have grown louder throughout the day (3 August) for the government to sack Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC in the wake of the report’s premature release, which apparently contained damning findings against him, as well as for the Territory to release the report in full immediately.

A spokesperson from Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s office stated the government was “disappointed” the report had been released to “select media outlets”.

“The release of information about the Inquiry outside of the government procedures has affected the Inquiry process and harmed people involved,” they said.

“It further contributes to the ongoing public discussion of the matter that has been very difficult for all of the individuals impacted.”

The Australian and the ABC have both received copies or seen the report.

READ MORE ‘Sack him immediately’: Calls for DPP Shane Drumgold’s termination following leaked Sofronoff Inquiry report

The spokesperson said they were “confident” the report was not leaked to media from anyone inside the government, neither in its draft or final form.

“The Government has sought advice from the Board of Inquiry, which has confirmed it provided a copy to some media outlets under an embargo,” they said.

“This release was not authorised by or communicated to Government prior to this release.”

Cabinet has been considering the report since it received it on Monday (31 July).

The spokesperson said the Attorney-General had been in touch with the DPP in relation to the findings regarding his conduct during the case against Bruce Lehrmann.

“The individuals identified in the Report and affected by its findings must be afforded procedural fairness, including the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP),” they said.

“The ACT Government is preparing to release the report formally along with the Government’s interim response to the recommendations early next week.”

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My thoughts are any of the actors who gave evidence at the enquiry and were adversely named are guilty of self-harm. Not something externally inflicted.

Karma for Drumgold?

HiddenDragon7:30 pm 03 Aug 23

Anyone whose dealings with the ACT government – and this has been true over many years – have gone much beyond the sorts of basic transactions and processes handled (generally quite well) by Access Canberra shopfronts should not be greatly surprised by what is emerging from the Sofronoff Inquiry.

An all too common experience in dealings with the ACT government is to be on the receiving end of treatment which involves selective application of policies, rules and, at times, even laws and with the fundamental principles of administrative law, and most particularly the genuine (not perfunctory) application of the concept of natural justice an optional extra – if you’re lucky.

For too many people, a non-routine dealing with the ACT government will be memorable mainly as a case study in how not to do it – the sort of thing which, one way or another, could be utilised in training courses for officials.

The extent to which this culture is entrenched throughout ACT public administration is probably best illustrated by the fact that this devastating Inquiry was called for by the official who appears now to be most devastated by its findings.

This is just the latest in a long list of shame and embarrassment for ACT public administration. If the ACT was an island in the Pacific, rather than a legal island in rural NSW, there would be serious calls for an intervention mission to sort things out and return a semblance of good governance.

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