Victoriaâ€™s controversial Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke has denied an inappropriate relationship with one of his Associate Crown Prosecutors whom he promoted at an unusually young age, Diana Karamicov.
Rapkeâ€™s promotion of his friend has caused dysfunction and carnage in the Office of Public Prosecutions with his most senior colleagues believed to be pushing for his removal.
The Age and Sunday Herald Sun have revealed this weekend that a land transfer document signed by Ms Karamicov when she divorced her husband, Matthew Corrigan and he assigned his interest in their Bundoora property to her was witnessed by Karamicov’s ultimate boss, Jeremy Rapke.
Itâ€™s an extraordinary discovery. On its own, it might not mean much. But, in the context of the serious allegations of wrongdoing against Rapke, itâ€™s a blockbuster revelation because itâ€™s evidence of an unusually familiar relationship between a relatively junior employee (as she was in 2008 when the transfer was signed) and her ultimate boss, one of the most senior lawyers in Victoria paid around $400,000 per annum.
It is inconceivable that any of her lowly peers in the OPP were popping in to Rapkeâ€™s office to get them to witness their private documents.
It indicates an intimate familiarity between the two. It hints at Rapkeâ€™s keen interest in Karamicov’s personal affairs.
Itâ€™s not proof of an â€˜inappropriate relationshipâ€™ but itâ€™s probably the closest thing weâ€™ll get to a paper trail between the two unless they have indiscreetly used email on the OPPâ€™s email server, something much speculated about in legal circles this week.
Only an independent inquiry can arrive at the truth with Rapke providing evidence on oath about whatâ€™s actually gone on.
His carefully-worded denial this week denied â€“ in the present tense â€“ having inappropriate relationships with members of his staff. Perhaps this indicates itâ€™s all over now.
Who knows? And normally we wouldnâ€™t care. But the suggestion that people are being appointed to statutory offices in the Office of Public Prosecutions on any other basis than merit is a serious one that goes to the integrity of the administration of justice in Victoria. The consequences of appointing inexperienced people to senior roles in the OPP could be devastating to victims of crime and even those accused of crimes.
We have seen Rapke use every trick in the book to avoid further scrutiny.
Carefully crafted non-denial denials that didnâ€™t address what happened in the past. Strongly questioning the need for an external inquiry. Cobbling together a statement of the three senior public prosecutors assuring everyone they agree on everything (except the things they disagree about). And then, in true Nixon White House style, now there are reports of Rapke launching a witch-hunt against any whistle-blowers in his office.
None of this is good enough. None of it fits with what a community could rightly expect of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Itâ€™s one week after the Sunday Herald Sun revealed this shocking scandal. The man is clearly distracted from his public duties as the aftermath of his private activities spills out to public attention. It was reported this week that at a dinner of the Victorian Bar that Gavin Silbert â€“ the Chief Crown Prosecutor and strident opponent of Rapke â€“ received a thunderous round of applause indicating their strong opposition to what Rapke is perceived to have done in the OPP.
One side of politics seems to have completely abandoned him. The other â€“ Labor â€“ is supporting him for now but heâ€™d not want to rely on that as there are plenty within the government gravely concerned about Rapkeâ€™s conduct.
When the Parliament reconvenes after the state election, whoever wins, Jeremy Rapke could be removed on a vote of both Houses.
It is clear that a permanent oversight process of Rapke â€“ and Victorian judges â€“ is long over-due. Politicians shouldnâ€™t do it but an independent, well-resourced person or agency must be able to review the DPPâ€™s conduct and performance and be able to recommend to the Parliament that action be taken when appropriate.
As we wrote a week ago, he should do the right thing and resign. His conduct in the last week has confirmed he is unfit for the office he currently holds. He should go before more damage is done to the system of justice he is sworn â€“ and paid over $400,000 per annum â€“ to uphold.