Saturday, October 23, 2010


Jeremy Rapke

Jeremy Rapke meets the press to refute claims about his relationship with a junior lawyer. Source: Herald Sun

FOUR Office of Public Prosecutions lawyers have said they will testify about the relationship between their boss, Jeremy Rapke, and a junior lawyer - if an inquiry is ordered.

The staff, furious over the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to promote solicitor Diana Karamicov, have independently confirmed their intentions to the Sunday Herald Sun.

The OPP has been in turmoil since July over Mr Rapke's appointment of three solicitors as associate crown prosecutors - a job that pays $140,000 a year.

"People would be lining up to give evidence," one of the lawyers said.

On Friday, Mr Rapke, QC, issued an internal memo to hundreds of staff accusing some lawyers of running a "despicable" campaign against Ms Karamicov and two other solicitors appointed alongside her.

Mr Rapke took the dramatic step after the Sunday Herald Sun told his office the newspaper had obtained a confidential letter from Gavin Silbert, SC, to Mr Rapke written in July.

It appeared yesterday that Mr Rapke's plea to staff and prosecutors to rally behind, instead of calming the situation, had inflamed matters.

"How dare he blame us for what he has done," one OPP lawyer said.

"We're the ones who are suffering because of this," one source said.

"He's the one who has embarrassed the office, not us."

In his letter, dated July 19, Mr Silbert, the Chief Crown Prosecutor, repeatedly accuses his boss of having a relationship with Ms Karamicov.

Mr Silbert also writes that Mr Rapke is interfering in Ms Karamicov's career by seeking to advance her beyond her experience and skills.

He also makes clear his belief that nothing in the three solicitors' previous careers had indicated they were capable of running criminal trials.

Today's publication of Mr Silbert's letter is set to reignite the fight within the OPP, which Attorney-General Rob Hulls is desperately claiming has been defused.

The four OPP lawyers have told the Sunday Herald Sun they believe Mr Silbert's assertion that Mr Rapke spent time with Ms Karamicov in a manner "markedly different from every other solicitor in the Office of Public Prosecutions" is correct.

They have said that, if called on, they could testify:

THAT Mr Rapke and Ms Karamicov were frequently alone together in his office late at night.

SOLICITORS who briefed Ms Karamicov complained they were afraid to criticise her because they feared she would complain about them to Mr Rapke.

THE relationship between Mr Rapke and Ms Karamicov was one of the reasons why the previous solicitor for public prosecutions left her job in May 2008.

The Brumby Government has ruled out an inquiry.

This month, Mr Rapke told broadcaster Jon Faine that he did not have a sexual relationship with Ms Karamicov, but refused to answer on Friday when asked if he had had a sexual relationship with her in the past.

The conflict inside the OPP has been the subject of rumour and innuendo in the legal district for months.

"He (Mr Rapke) is acting as though this is just something inside the office - it's not, it's the talk of Lonsdale St," one source said.

Victorian Government Solicitor John Cain, who interviewed the solicitors after concerns about their appointments as associate crown prosecutors were raised with Attorney-General Hulls, declined to answer questions about Mr Silbert's letter.

Mr Hulls also declined to answer questions.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu called on Mr Hulls to order an inquiry.

"There must now be an investigation extending not only to what has gone on in the DPP's office, but also to what Rob Hulls knew and when, and what his role has been in attempting to cover up this crisis," he said.

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