Shane Drumgold’s reasons for failing to warn

Shane Drumgold’s reasons for failing to warn about her Logies speech were ‘ludicrous’, an inquiry has found.

9 months ago

That was just one of the findings in Walter Sofronoff’s 839-page report, which was handed down by the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Monday afternoon – following an explosive, month-long Board of Inquiry in May.

The public probe was held to examine the conduct of police and prosecutors in ‘s rape trial, held in the ACT in October last year. 

alleged he raped her in Parliament House when they were colleagues in 2019 – which he strongly denies. 

The first case was called off due to a rogue juror, before the charge was dropped entirely due to Ms Higgins’ mental health.

In his report, Mr Sofronoff also said Mr Drumgold, the ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions, was ‘choosy’ about who advised because, on three occasions, he assisted Brittany Higgins with matters that could impact the trial.

But he refused to do the same for Wilkinson.

However, the chairman also said Wilkinson’s ’45 years’ experience’ in journalism should have equipped her with enough to know what would endanger a jury trial – adding that she was clearly not lacking legal advice.

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured during her Logies speech in June last year. She won for her interview with Brittany Higgins

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured during her Logies speech in June last year.

She won for her interview with Brittany Higgins

Shane Drumgold was heavily criticised in Walter Sofronoff's report, handed down on Monday

Shane Drumgold was heavily criticised in Walter Sofronoff’s report, handed down on Monday

Mr Sofronoff referred to moments where Mr Drumgold scrutinised some of Ms Higgins’ speeches and checked them for words that could endanger the trial – including one she was going to make when given an award in public.

‘This was exactly what Ms Wilkinson wanted Mr Drumgold to do,’ Mr Sofronoff said. 

‘Despite this, to explain his failure, he later characterised Ms Wilkinson’s request as a request for legal advice.’

The chairman pointed out that Mr Drumgold was ‘no more Ms Higgins’ advisor that he was Ms Wilkinson’s,’ because they were both witnesses in the trial at that stage.

Mr Sofronoff’s comments came about due to evidence submitted to the inquiry, regarding a heated phone call between Mr Drumgold and Channel 10 lawyer Marlia Saunders – four months after Wilkinson’s speech.

Marlia Saunders, the network’s lawyer, had been urging him to publicly correct the widely-held belief he Wilkinson told her not to speak about Brittany Higgins’ allegations during the televised TV awards, but that she did so anyway.

Mr Lehrmann’s defence lawyers tried to apply for a permanent stay, which means they wanted the case thrown out altogether, on the premise that Wilkinson’s televised speech could prejudice a jury against Mr Lehrmann.

However, the stay application was unsuccessful and a temporary stay was granted – which meant the trial was moved from June to October 2022.

During the phone call with Ms Saunders, four months after Wilkinson’s speech, Mr Drumgold referred to the rejected permanent stay application when he said: jasa pembuatan pt perorangan ‘I am acutely conscious there is a judgment in place.’

‘I can’t use my authority to bridge a gap that the judgment can’t bridge.’

Wilkinson was heavily criticised over her Logies acceptance speech in June 2022, during which she appeared to side with Ms Higgins (pictured together)

Wilkinson was heavily criticised over her Logies acceptance speech in June 2022, during which she appeared to side with Ms Higgins (pictured together)

Bruce Lehrmann is pictured, left, outside the ACT Supreme Court with his defence barrister Steven Whybrow, right

Bruce Lehrmann is pictured, left, outside the ACT Supreme Court with his defence barrister Steven Whybrow, right

In his findings, Mr Sofronoff said it was ‘ludicrous’ for Mr Drumgold to make those comments.

He said the fact that Mr Lehrmann’s lawyers failed to get the case thrown out had no bearing on his ‘duty to prevent an act that threatened the trial’ – the threat, in this instance, being Wilkinson’s speech.

However, the chairman also found that Wilkinson is an experienced journalist who should have known better than to deliver a speech like that in the first place.

‘It may be thought that Ms Wilkinson should herself have appreciated the likely effect of her intended words.

She was a very experienced broadcaster,’ he said in the report.

‘Also, she attended the meeting together with a solicitor whose services were paid for by Ms Wilkinson’s own employer so she was not lacking in access to legal advice.’

‘It might be thought that, before a speech like Ms Wilkinson’s was given, it would first be considered by many minds within Channel 10, including by legal minds.’

He suggested that Mr Drumgold, upon hearing the contents of Wilkinson’s speech, should have ’emphatically’ told her to rewrite it and, if she didn’t, he should have told the Chief Justice and sought an injunction to stop her.

Mr Sofronoff found he did none of those things and ‘there by left alive a threat to the trial’.

The findings ultimately resulted in Mr Drumgold’s resignation.

He has been on paid leave since May.

The chief minister of the ACT has slammed retired judge Walter Sofronoff (pictured) for 'breaching his good faith to me' by releasing his Board of Inquiry report

The chief minister of the ACT has slammed retired judge Walter Sofronoff (pictured) for ‘breaching his good faith to me’ by releasing his Board of Inquiry report

ACT Chief Minister slams Walter Sofronoff

The report was handed to the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on July 31, but he had planned not to release it for weeks – however, contents of the report were published on Wednesday.

That forced Mr Barr to release the report on Monday – which he did, moments before holding a press conference during which he slammed Mr Sofronoff for ‘breaching his good faith to me’.

Mr Barr told reporters he was ‘very clear’ with Mr Sofronoff that his report would not be redacted or suppressed in any way.

‘He breached his good faith to me by releasing that report ahead of getting it to who he was meant to under the legislation,’ he said. 

When asked if he would like to see Mr Sofronoff charged, Mr Barr said: ‘We are considering our options, as I’ve outlined’.

Mr Barr said he had not received an apology from the retired judge. 

‘He has sought to provide an explanation,’ he added.

<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news" data-version="2" id="mol-14451a20-34fc-11ee-af75-7763e480bce1" website judge REALLY found about Lisa Wilkinson&apos;s Logies speech

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