Walter Sofronoff demands ACT chief minister Andrew Barr retract criticisms of Bruce Lehrmann and Brittany Higgins inquiry leaks

Addressing why Albrechtsen had published a report on the inquiry’s findings before it had been released by the ACT government, Sofronoff said Albrechtsen had informed him she had obtained a separate copy of the report from another source and had therefore had been at liberty to report it.

“I have no reason to believe she was lying to me,” he wrote.

When the contents of the report were published ahead of the scheduled release by the ACT government by The Australian and the ABC, Sofronoff’s lawyer, Glen Cranny, said the chief minister had claimed that a “reasonably straight reading” of the Inquiries Act suggested that Sofronoff had breached section 17, imputed a breach of good faith and made a lapse of judgement.

Cranny, the managing director of law firm Gilshenan and Luton, said “these remarks were published without notice to Mr Sofronoff” and that Barr had offered these views “without having taken legal advice as to whether they were correct”.

“We are writing on Mr Sofronoff’s instructions to point out respectfully why Mr Barr was wrong to say that Mr Sofronoff had contravened the act and to impute that he had behaved in bad faith. We also write to give Mr Barr an opportunity to correct the harm that he has caused to Mr Sofronoff’s professional reputation.”

Former ACT director of public prosecutions Shane Drumgold, SC, has launched legal action to overturn Sofronoff’s damning findings about his conduct and argued that the leaking of the report by Sofronoff failed to comply with section 17 of the ACT’s Inquiries Act, denied him natural justice and has given rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of Sofronoff.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr (left) and Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr (left) and Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Sofronoff’s explanation about why he had provided a copy of the report to journalists ahead of time is contained in correspondence with Barr and ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury.

His lawyer, Cranny, said he had released the correspondence as it had been the subject of a freedom of information request and Sofronoff had told the ACT chief minister and attorney-general that all the correspondence should be released.

An ACT government spokesperson said that as a private citizen, Sofronoff was free to release any correspondence in his possession.

Higgins, a former Liberal staffer, accused Lehrmann, her ex-colleague, of raping her inside a ministerial office at Parliament House after a night out in 2019.

Brittany Higgins addresses the media outside the ACT Supreme Court after the rape trail was aborted due to juror misconduct.

Brittany Higgins addresses the media outside the ACT Supreme Court after the rape trail was aborted due to juror misconduct.Credit: Rhett Wyman

Lehrmann has always denied the allegation.

In October 2022, Lehrmann faced a criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court, but juror misconduct derailed the proceedings and the trial was discontinued.

Drumgold, as the director of public prosecutions, dropped the prosecution against Lehrmann, fearing the impact of a second trial on Higgins’ mental health.

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