The Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke is struggling to cope with the pressure of revelations in last weekâ€™s Sunday Herald Sun that he has had an â€œinappropriate relationshipâ€ with a thirty-one year old woman Diana Karamicov who he recommended for promotion to the statutory office of Associate Crown Prosecutor.
Rapke has denied any wrongdoing but given the magnitude of the allegations, his denial has seemed rather muted.
He has been accused of a serious act of corruption by the nationâ€™s best-read newspaper and thereâ€™s no anger, no threat of defamation proceedings, just a brazen denial of the kind delivered by a man not expecting to ever be held to account.
Rapke is one of a number of public officials who while theoretically accountable to the Parliament â€“ and paid generously by taxpayers – are actually not accountable to anyone at all, ever. Judges, the Ombudsman, the DPP, the Auditor-General, the Electoral Commissioners are all independent from the government of the day and thatâ€™s perfectly reasonable. But each of these holders of these high offices must be accountable to independent scrutiny when serious allegations of wrongdoing occur.
Power corrupts, absolutely power corrupts absolutely.
The closest thing to any level of accountability that judges and magistrates occasionally face is from the press and that is very rare and usually only provoked by the most foolish of misdeed or misstatement.
The DPP answers only in the loosest sense to the Attorney-General. He canâ€™t remove him and it would only be possible with bi-partisan political support and a vote of both houses of Parliament. Parliament isnâ€™t sitting before the next state election but VEXNEWS believes the Liberals are already leaning towards a full outside inquiry into Rapke and that Hulls is resisting it, for now. If the government is re-elected that view could well change unless Rapke can restore the loss of confidence he has enjoyed from his own colleagues over this scandal. Hulls and Rapke seem to get on reasonably well but how much political damage he is willing to endure in defending him is yet to be tested.
DOES RAPKE HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE?
Rapke has actively resisted any inquiry into his conduct or dealings by a retired judge. He has failed to put his denial of inappropriate relations in his office on oath. He has not really done anything other than stonewall and deny, hoping that the structure of the office he holds (designed to keep the prosecution process separate from political influence) will prevent him from being held to account for his activities on the job.
It took him five full days of carnage before his office could send out this morningâ€™s press release.
It fails to address the serious issues of division, distrust and corruption allegations that have made the Office of Public Prosecutions a statewide joke this week.
In one trial this week, attended by a VEXNEWS Investigator, a County Court judge was referring to the past weekend and explained that he â€œspluttered into his Weetiesâ€ after reading the Sunday Herald-Sun.
He did not make any comment at all about the veracity of the allegations facing Rapke but VEXNEWS noticed the reaction of all of those in the court-room including that of Anne Hassan, the prosecutor in the case and her instructing solicitor.
It was not the stony-faced reaction of those outraged at the vile slurs against their boss and leader, they joined in with the rest of the court in having a big laugh about the whole matter in gallows-humour style. This came as some surprise to our observer who expected some team loyalty. Clearly they are a divided house at the Office of Public Prosecutions.
Perhaps Rapkeâ€™s representatives in the court were just trying to make nice with the judge. More likely, they are just as worried about it â€“ and contemptuous about those involvedâ€“ as the rest of us.