About the Commissioner - Mr Walter Sofronoff KC

Mr Sofronoff is a graduate of The University of Queensland—Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (1976).

In 1977 Mr Sofronoff was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland and commenced practice in 1978. Mr Sofronoff was appointed King's Counsel in 1988.

Before being appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland, Mr Sofronoff served as vice-president (1992–94) and president (1994-96) of the Bar Association of Queensland Committee. He was president of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal (2001–05).

From 2005 to 2014, Mr Sofronoff served as Queensland's Solicitor-General.

In 2015 Mr Sofronoff was appointed Commissioner of the Grantham Floods Commission of Inquiry and in 2016 led a review of the parole system in Queensland.

Mr Sofronoff was appointed President of the Queensland Court of Appeal in 2017 and retired in May 2022.

Counsel Assisting

The Commissioner was assisted by Michael Hodge KC, Laura Reece, Joshua Jones, and Susan Hedge as Counsel Assisting the Commission of Inquiry.

Michael Hodge was called to the bar in 2004 and appointed King’s Counsel in 2017.

Laura Reece was called to the bar in 2006.

Joshua Jones was called to the bar in 2011.

Susan Hedge was called to the bar in 2013.

The Inquiry was established by Commissions of Inquiry Order (No. 3) 2022 under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950 (the Act), published in the Government Gazette on 10 June 2022. The Order commenced on 13 June 2022 and appointed Walter Sofronoff KC as Commissioner. The Commissioner was independent of government.

The Commission of Inquiry into Forensic DNA Testing in Queensland has now concluded in its formal proceedings and review process.

Further information about the Act and a Commissioner’s powers

The Act allows a Commissioner to do all things necessary to make and complete the Inquiry. This includes powers to:

  • summon people to appear before the Commission and give evidence;
  • require people to produce documents or other things in their possession or control;
  • require a person to attend at a time and place and answer questions or give information; and
  • require a person to provide specified written information within a specified time.

These powers override any other legislative provisions or confidentiality agreements to keep information confidential.

If issued with a requirement by a Commission of Inquiry, you must comply with the requirement. However, statements made by witnesses cannot be used against them in civil or criminal proceedings. Also, witnesses summoned to attend or appear before a Commission have the same protections as witnesses in Supreme Court trials. The Act specifically prevents an employer from dismissing any employee, or prejudicing their employment, on account of them having given evidence to a Commission.

A Commission of Inquiry is not bound by the rules of evidence and the Commission can sit at any time and in any place. As set out in the gazettal, the Commission “may receive submissions from relevant individuals and entities and hold public and private hearings … as appropriate and convenient and in a way that protects and promotes the rights protected under the Human Rights Act 2019”.

The Commission can prohibit the publication of evidence, and anyone who gains access to confidential information for the purposes of an inquiry must not disclose the information or given access to that information to anyone without consent or unless required by law. Confidential information includes information about a person’s affairs.

Last reviewed
13 December, 2022
Last updated
12 December, 2022