Prosecutor on leave amid Lehrmann inquiry

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ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold has stood aside. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold has taken a month’s leave as an inquiry into the handling of a case against Bruce Lehrmann continues.

The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Williamson has been appointed by the ACT government executive to act in the role of the territory’s top prosecutor position until June 13.

An ACT government spokeswoman confirmed Mr Drumgold was on leave at his request so he could focus on the board of inquiry.

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ACT chief prosecutor Shane Drumgold SC has gone on leave amid an inquiry into the Lehrmann trial. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Mr Drumgold has come under fire in recent weeks during the independent inquiry into how the ACT justice system handled rape allegations leveraged against Mr Lehrmann by another former Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins.

ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said he expected Mr Drumgold to return to his position in mid-June.

“The government’s been advised that he’s on leave for four weeks, which is also why we’ve needed to make an appointment of somebody to fill that role during that period,” Mr Rattenbury told ABC Canberra.

“He sought leave, it came from him as a request.”

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual assault before the trial was abandoned last year due to juror misconduct.

Mr Lehrmann has continually denied the allegation, and the DPP declined to pursue a second trial due to concerns over Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Mr Drumgold faced a tough line of questioning last week in the inquiry sparked by a letter he had sent the ACT’s chief police officer, alleging political interference and questioning police.

The inquiry has centre around around the breakdown of the relationship between the DPP and the police throughout the investigation and trial.

Mr Drumgold last week told the inquiry he no longer suspected political interference.

Mr Drumgold has been a prosecutor for the ACT DPP since 2002, and has been the territory’s chief prosecutor for the past four years.

The inquiry will continue next week, where police are expected to give evidence.