Minister Barr: ACT Government announces Board of Inquiry
- Written by ACT Government
Released 21/12/2022 - Joint media release
Following a number of complaints and allegations related to the trial R V Lehrmann, the ACT Government will establish a Board of Inquiry to ensure that the Territory’s framework for progressing criminal investigations and prosecutions is robust, fair and respects the rights of those involved.
“This was a high-profile trial. The allegations made in recent weeks are serious. An independent review of the roles played by the criminal justice agencies involved is the most appropriate response,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
The Board of Inquiry will consider whether the functions of the various criminal justice entities involved in the matter were discharged with appropriate rigour, impartiality, and independence. Specific elements will include:
- the engagement between the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and ACT Policing regarding the prospect of charges being laid, the decision to proceed to trial and the decision not to proceed to a retrial;
- aspects of the conduct of police investigators and the DPP;
- whether the support provided by the Victims of Crime Commissioner to the complainant aligned with the relevant statutory framework; and
- the legal framework in the ACT for addressing juror misconduct.
The Inquiry will be able to hold hearings, both public and private, issue search warrants, compel the production of documents, and compel the attendance of witnesses and take their evidence on oath.
ACT Policing, the DPP and Victims of Crime Commissioner have all indicated their intention to cooperate with the Inquiry.
The ACT Government is currently identifying an eminent legal expert to conduct the Inquiry. The ACT Government will determine the terms of reference and key timeframes will be finalised in consultation with that expert next month.
It is expected that the Inquiry will report to the Chief Minister in the first half of 2023.
“I want to make clear that this Inquiry is not about revisiting the trial, any evidence in the trial or the outcome of the trial,” Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said. “It is expected that the Inquiry will have regard to investigations which other bodies may be conducting regarding these matters.
“I would ask everyone to respect the privacy of individuals who will be involved in this Inquiry.
“While the Inquiry will be focused on ACT criminal justice agencies and the justice system, the ACT Government acknowledges it may be triggering for people with lived experience of sexual violence. There are a range of services available for people experiencing difficulties, and we encourage anyone who needs support to reach out to those organisations.”
If you or someone you know needs support, please visit: https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/sexual-assault-prevention-and-response/support-services-available-in-the-act
- Statement ends -
Andrew Barr, MLA | Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases