I am prepared to accept Drumgold did not believe he was behaving badly. In fact, I am prepared to believe Drumgold thought he was serving a higher good. It is quite possible that many in the media, and in the #MeToo movement, would have made the same choices as Drumgold in the belief that there are times when noble ends justify foul means.
Perhaps most frightening is that, even after the Sofronoff report, there are no doubt quite a few who still think Drumgold made the right choices when trying to withhold evidence from the defence.
The deafening silence in response to the Sofronoff report from some political and media quarters — starting with the ABC, which appears more concerned about how this important report was leaked — tells you they regard this as an irritating glitch that will slow but not stop their campaign to right social wrongs by whatever means necessary.
For these people, more convictions for sexual assault and rape are an absolute necessity if we are to mitigate what is undoubtedly a historical evil. If, in pursuit of more convictions, the occasional innocent man goes to jail, so be it. You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs. So, this reasoning goes, a little collateral damage to principles such as presumption of innocence, due process and natural justice and the traditional rules of evidence is an acceptable compromise in the big scheme of things. …
It is trite but true to say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Systemic failure and incompetence:
If the person [Shane Drumgold] at the apex of the powerful prosecution branch can behave like this there is a real question about systemic failure. How many people are in jail in the ACT because prosecutors withheld evidence from them? We do not know. That is an untenable stain of uncertainty for the ACT justice system.
As with the systemic failures caused by the Lawyer X scandal in Victoria and the DNA lab failures in Queensland, many cases may need to be reopened to see if a miscarriage of justice occurred. …
What of accused people who do not have the good fortune to have the talented and honourable Steve Whybrow SC and all Bruce Lehrmann’s team of skilled and dedicated lawyers in their corner? Remember that when Lehrmann initially sought help from ACT Legal Aid, he says he was told by a lawyer there that Legal Aid would not challenge a complainant’s account of the facts as a pack of lies – only that they were mistaken.
One can only wonder if there are people sitting in ACT jails because Legal Aid would not defend them properly or because prosecutors withheld critical evidence. …
Has the ACT government allowed the criminal justice system to be overrun by the most zealous members of the #MeToo movement? What other ideological obsessions of the ACT government infect the justice system?
Is the Pope Catholic (present one excepted of course)?
Finally, we must acknowledge this is not solely an ACT issue. It is quite possible that all across the country zealous prosecutors are hitting targets for conviction rates by withholding evidence or playing other cute games with defence teams. Without an equivalent of a national Sofronoff inquiry, we can only point to anecdotal evidence of such abuses, but there is certainly plenty of that.
Since I began reporting on this case, and on the Sofronoff inquiry, I have been deluged by barristers, solicitors, family and friends of alleged perpetrators of sexual offences with increasing numbers of anecdotal cases of apparent unfairness. Some I have investigated appear to have merit – these are for future articles. Some complaints seem baseless. There are enough of the former, however, to lead me to the conclusion that the pendulum of Australian justice may well have swung too far against alleged perpetrators.
Men, might be better not to risk a visit to the ACT. It is going the way of New York, where Trump was recently convicted of sexually assaulting a woman almost 30 years ago. He says he has no recollection. It occurred in the middle of a Department story, if you believe her story (the jury did). If the narrative people don’t like you, you are at risk. And Brittany got $2.5m of taxpayer money, so there are incentives.