Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold, 58, will not secure a special payout after resigning from his $481,864 a year job but will receive a standard ‘self-funded’ pension for life.
News.com.au has confirmed Mr Drumgold has not negotiated any special payout or judicial pension over his departure despite arguing for years the role should secure the same salary and entitlements as a Supreme Court judge.
It remains unclear whether or not his decision to resign and retire from the law will truncate an expected move to attempt to strip him off his senior counsel status or his ability to practise as a barrister.
Mr Drumgold, who left school when he was 15 and says he sometimes “slept rough” and was effectively homeless, insists he is not getting any entitlements beyond a “normal public servant.”
His benefits are however significantly more generous, with an annual salary of $481,864 and superannuation which can be worth up to 16 per cent of the base salary.
Mr Drumgold has been on paid medical leave on a weekly salary of $9,266 a week since he spent a bruising five days in the witness box in May.
Mr Drumgold announced his resignation on Sunday after private talks with the Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury who indicated his ongoing employment in the role was no longer tenable in the wake of an inquiry into his alleged conduct.
The Sofronoff inquiry found the DPP deliberately lied to the ACT Supreme Court and tried to withhold information from Bruce Lehrmann’s defence team. Mr Drumgold disputes the findings.
But he won’t formally resign until September 1, ensuring his medical leave tops 15 weeks and around $135,000 before he enters retirement.
DPP repeatedly argued for judicial pension
News.com.au has also confirmed from publicly available documents that before the controversy over his handling of the Lehrmann rape prosecution Mr Drumgold repeatedly argued that his position should have pay parity with a Supreme Court judge and be awarded a judicial pension during his tenure in the job.
He argued this was in line with other DPP’s around the country.
However, the ACT Remuneration Tribunal rejected his requests, arguing this was a policy matter for the ACT Government.
On July 23, 2021, Mr Drumgold wrote to the ACT Remuneration Tribunal again, arguing that his pay should be “commensurate with a Supreme Court Judge.”
“I agree the key themes remain valid and relevant and the remuneration for a Director of Public Prosecutions should be commensurate with that of a Supreme Court Judge,’’ he wrote.
“I ask that the tribunal also note that the DPP position has a structurally reduced take home salary, because the occupant partially self-funds their own superannuation benefit rather than receiving a judicial pension.
“If it is accepted that the desired pool from which to draw both Supreme Court Judges and Directors of Public Prosecutions will be a successful and experienced Senior Counsel with a healthy practice, the proposed remuneration for both Supreme Court Judges and the Director of Public Prosecutions will be impacted by its competitiveness in this regard.”
DPP argued for pay parity with Supreme Court judge
In 2019, the same year he was appointed, Mr Drumgold argued for pay parity with a Supreme Court judge.
“Mr Shane Drumgold, ACT Director of Public Prosecutions appeared before the Tribunal and advocated for parity between the remuneration package of a Supreme Court Judge and the remuneration and entitlements of the DPP in the ACT,’’ the Tribunal website states.
“The submission also raised that the DPP be afforded the entitlement of a judicial pension. The Tribunal considers that the intent of the 2014 Determination has already been achieved.”
DPP was knocked back from law school as mature age student
Drumgold was famously knocked back from the ANU law school and the University of Canberra law school as a mature age student after completing an economics degree at Charles Sturt University.
He then enrolled in the Diploma of Justice Studies at the University of Canberra and was allowed to transfer to the Bachelor of Laws degree a year later.
In his occasional address to a 2021 graduation class, he noted that following his graduation he was employed as both a prosecutor at the ODPP and tutor at the Australian National University:
“I cannot explain the surreal experience of standing before a class of University students, teaching them criminal and evidence law, in a degree program they were accepted into the same year I was rejected,’’ he said.
“This is one of many experiences that has instilled in me the value of keeping one’s eye on the target, regardless of the external narrative. Do not outsource your sense of agency to others, because they do not know your potential like you do and have no interest in re-writing your future.”
In 2001 Drumgold was accepted into the Master’s in International Law Degree at the Australian National University. He graduated in 2004.
Shane Drumgold responds to Walter Sofronoff KC
Mr Drumgold broke his silence over damning report into his conduct at the weekend declaring he disputes the findings, has been denied natural justice and is disappointed the investigation never bothered to canvass the leaking of Brittany Higgins private text messages to the media.
But he decries the “weaponsation” of Ms Higgins private and confidential records by the media which has involved leaking the entire contents of her phone and an unpublished book.
In a statement, Mr Drumgold said he was disappointed that his letter which led to the Board of Inquiry, which had extremely broad powers, did not deliver a seminal moment in time, one to potentially rival the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Assault.
“In November 2022 I wrote a letter to the ACT’s Chief Police Officer. In it I set out serious concerns I then held about the way an investigation and trial of DPP v Lehrmann were handled,’’ he said.
“In my mind, the handling of the case was reflective of the chronic problem in Australia with the way our legal institutions deal with allegations of sexual violence.
Mr Drumgold said the inquiry could have examined issues unique to this case, such as:
– How does a complainant’s most private and intimate information, produced under compulsion for an investigation, become so widely and systematically weaponised in our media?
• What impact will this have on others thinking of reporting their matter?
• How do you balance confidentiality protections under the court process, with protections against the disclosure of journalistic sources?
• How does confidential information manage to get leaked and reported?
“Instead, the findings largely focused on myself,’’ he said.
Shane Drumgold ‘denied natural justice’
Mr Drumgold said he was provided with a copy of the Board’s final report late on Friday 4 August 2023 – well after the Board itself released it to members of the media.
“Having now read the report, I dispute many of its adverse findings about me,’’ he said.
“While I acknowledge I made mistakes, I strongly dispute that I engaged in deliberate or underhanded conduct in the trial or that I was dishonest.
“The findings relating to my forensic trial decisions are difficult to reconcile with those decisions having been made in the context of a robust adversarial process, with a strong and experienced defence team and an eminently qualified judge who presided over the trial. It is difficult to reconcile the findings with the trial judge’s expression of gratitude at the end of the case, for the exemplary way all counsel conducted the trial.
“Although I accept my conduct was less than perfect, my decisions were all made in good faith, under intense and sometimes crippling pressure, conducted within increasingly unmanageable workloads.
“The pre-emptive release of the Report to the media has denied me procedural fairness. It has deprived the ACT Government of the opportunity of considering my conduct objectively.
“My career has been driven by a fire burning within, lit by an early life spent surrounded by the pain of chronic intergenerational social injustice. This fire has fuelled a life that took me from a disadvantaged Housing Commission estate to an esteemed leadership role within the legal profession.
“Unfortunately, I find the fire has been extinguished, and try as I might, I cannot reignite it.
“Although I dispute many of the findings of the Inquiry, I accept that the premature publicity surrounding me means that my office, the Courts and most importantly the ACT public, could not presently have faith in the discharge of the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Accordingly, I have decided to retire from my role, effective 1 September 2023. I hope everyone involved in this matter finds peace – and I wish you all well.”