Another example of double standards in the application of the law

As I had earlier written to Kevin Lindeberg the biggest problem in resolving the unsatisfactory position of double standards in the application of the law in Queensland is our corrupt mainstream media, unethical editors at The Courier-Mail and breakdown of truth through the concentration of the media in yopo few hands.

At the time Queensland Premier Peter Beattie was ducking and diving over what he knew in the so-called "Winegate" affair in which one of his more forgettable Ministers took a bottle of wine into an alcohol free area there was another blatant example of double standards in the application of the law in Queensland.

The article below is copied from the University of Queensland's School of Journalism's "Justice Project" in which the scandal over the Shredding of the Heiner Documents, as detailed at the link at the bottom of this page, continues to be ignored by the trashy Courier-Mail and the television media.

Judge buries shredding excuses

Baptist minister convicted in document destruction case

More than a decade of false and spurious claims by Queensland's legal establishment that it was necessary for a court proceeding to be on foot before a charge of destroying evidence could succeed, were trashed in the Brisbane District Court this week.

A Baptist minister was convicted and given a suspended jail sentence for destroying evidence after he guillotined four pages of the diary of a victim of sexual assault.

No court proceeding related to the diary took place for five years -- when the victim, a13-year-old girl, turned 18 and went to the police.

For over ten years, various chairmen and senior officers of the State's Criminal Justice Commission (now Crime and Misconduct Commission), a currently serving magistrate, a former Director of Public Prosecutions (and a one-time District Court Judge) and the current State Coroner, have all said no charges could be laid against a group of politicians and bureaucrats who shredded evidence gathered by an inquiry into a Brisbane youth detention centre.

At the time of the shredding those who authorised it were aware the documents were required for a legal proceeding.

On three occasions the judge in the District Court case this week rejected the views put by Counsel that a legal proceeding had to be on foot before a charge of destroying evidence could succeed.

(It should be noted that the High Court had determined the matter many years ago. It ruled in two cases (R v. Rogerson and R v. Murphy) that an offence of destroying evidence or perverting the course of justice could be committed even if a legal proceeding had not commenced at the time the offence took place).

In the case just completed, both the Crown Prosecutor and the Defence Counsel sought rulings from the presiding judge, Mr Justice Samios, about the issue, and on each occasion His Honour indicated there was no ambiguity involved -- a legal action did not have to be underway at the time evidence was destroyed for an offence to be committed.

His Honour appeared perplexed that the issue should even have been raised for his determination.

Significantly, he also squashed a suggestion that the wording of a form in the Court Practice Rules should be given more weight that the wording of the Act passed by parliament.

In the mid-1990s a former Director Of Public Prosecutions told the Shadow Attorney General at the time, that the politicians and bureaucrats involved in the shredding could not be charged because, he said, Form 83 of the practice rules prevented it.

Other lawyers have vigorously rejected such a view.

As did Mr Justice Samios in the case of the Baptist minister this week.

His Honour sentenced the man to jail for six months -- suspended on condition he not commit another offence punishable by a term in prison during the suspension period.



The sham of the last ten years in Queensland has been well and truly nailed, thanks to Mr Justice Samios. As it had to be.

The shame of it all remains, however.

And the blight on the reputation of a state that claims to support the Rule of Law remains.

The excuses that got the politicians and bureaucrats off the hook for so long were spurious.

A Baptist minister guillotines four pages of a diary into strips (as distinct from pulping over 100 hours of evidence) and ultimately returns those strips to the victim's family (as distinct from consigning the pulped evidence to the local land fill tip), and he gets the book thrown at him.

As he should.

Mind you, the strips of the girl's diary were reconstructed into their original form by a police officer in 15 hours.

Opening up the land fill at Willawong or Rochedale is hardly likely to achieve the same effect in relation to the pulped evidence.

And the evidence that was shredded contained information about the pack rape of a girl in the custody of the State.

But nothing happened in this case. There were convenient excuses. But those excuses have now been buried like the shredded evidence -- absolutely nailed, buried and cemented in.

As they should have been.

Now, unless we have two systems of law in Queensland, one for politicians and senior bureaucrats, and one for the wretched citizens, there is nothing else except that the time has come to charge the politicians and bureaucrats.

If it is good enough for a Baptist minister to face the courts, why is it not good enough for politicians and bureaucrats?

We are waiting for an answer Mr Police Commissioner.


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