The Chief Officer of the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions (VOPP) Jeremy Rapke QC has officially tendered his resignation after prolonged controversy over a report following an inquiry into his conduct and office by retired judge Justice Frank Vincent, QC.
Rapke, who held one of the highest legal offices in the land was brought down by a whistle blowing prosecutor who resigned in protest.
The Vincent probe was condemnatory of Mr Rapke, suggesting he undertook a course of action that gave rise to a perception of the presence of a conflict of interest in the handling of appointments made by him.
However there was no explicit finding that he had engaged in any conscious wrongdoing, illegality or impropriety.
There has been a lot of gossip in Victoria’s criminal legal fraternity since the release of the Vincent Report.
The Sunday Herald Sun articles, involving investigative journalist James Campbell, reported that senior lawyers within the OPP believed the 61 year old Mr Rapke was involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with Ms Diana Karamicov.
The Vincent inquiry was commissioned following Sun Herald reports over Mr Rapke’s decision to promote lawyer Diana Karamicov, 28, to the role of Associate Crown Prosecutor, a $140,000-a-year job within the OPP.
Control of prosecution services is split between the Director, the Solicitor for Public Prosecutions, and the Chief Crown Prosecutor, and irrespective of any relationship between the two, Karamicov’s promotion was considered to be outside the proper sphere of Rapke’s responsibility. There appeared to be no statutory role
Shadow Attorney-General, Martin Pakula, called for the report to be made public in the interests of transparency, and the public’s entitlement to know the basis upon which the resignation has come about.
Attorney-General Robert Clark however stated that the report would remain secret on the basis it contained sensitive information, including personal information and matters of privacy.
Rapke, as a Lawyer and Officer of The Supreme Court, has a responsibility to the Court. If he has been involved in any conduct which has resulted in him compromising his duty to the Court or the system or been involved in conduct which has compromised his duty to act with integrity, there would be an expectation that he face disciplinary action. The Chief Officer of the DPP has the status of a Supreme Court judge.
There has been no suggestion that his ability to practise law has been called into question despite the release of the report by Judge Vincent.
Unless the public have the benefit of reading the taxpayer funded report themselves, there will probably remain some lingering doubt as to whether Rapke’s appointments are indeed capable of carrying out the positions they hold.
There is no indication that either Karamicov or any other ‘inappropriate appointees’ will be tendering their resignation.
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