By Bill Rowlings, CEO of CLA
Barristers are making scathing criticisms of Tasmanian “justice” after the five-year saga of a legal case against a lawyer was abandoned by the Crown this week.
They warn this is “an important case” marred by “illegal conduct”. The final outcome, yet to play out when secrecy orders are lifted, may reverberate around Australia, CLA believes.
Barristers have treated with scorn the withdrawal of charges at the latest possible stage by the Tasmanian Director of Public Prosecution’s office: it filed a ‘nolle prosequi’, or “unwilling to prosecute”, in early August 2022 after half a decade of alleged Crown hassling of lawyer Jeff Thompson by police and prosecutors.
More revelations are promised shortly.
The private lawyers have been vociferous in their condemnation of police, the Office of the DPP and the legal systems and structures in Tasmania.
Hobart barrister Greg Barns SC said the original charging of lawyer Thompson was “a disgraceful abuse of Tasmanian police power”.
Thompson was one a raft of people associated with trying to free convicted murderer Sue Neill-Fraser (SNF) from jail because they believe hers is one of Australia’s biggest and most pronounced wrongful conviction cases in decades.
(The other major current case is Derek Bromley, 38 years in an Adelaide jail – and counting – because he won’t admit guilt in a case marred by misleading “scientific expertise” evidence from a forensic pathologist who was not qualified to comment).
‘Stitched up’ doesn’t go close to the alleged abuse of power
For those who believe in SNF’s innocence – as CLA does – “stitched up” doesn’t go close to how they allege the case against her was manipulated and mismanaged in the Tasmanian “justice” system. At some stage, a major inquiry will be needed to expose the lack of investigatory rigour and misleading of courts that has pervaded this case, CLA believes.
A series of severely critical, analytical papers tabled in the Upper House of the Tasmanian Parliament last year remains unaddressed by the Establishment political bosses or the “justice” powerbrokers. Former SNF lawyer Barbara Etter and barrister Hugh Selby produced the extensive expose, excoriating police and prosecution practices: https://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/LC/tpapers/2021/LCpdf2021/LCTP14_31_08_2021.pdf
Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year sentence (reduced from an original and extraordinarily heavy 26), and becomes eligible for parole on 20 August 2022 after 13 years. On 12 August 2022 the High Court is due to consider her latest appeal, one of many that have failed to lift the shadow of doubt about a case with no body and therefore no murder weapon, despite official speculative invention.
In the SNF case, Tasmanian police and allies apparently deliberately targeted fellow prisoners of Sue Neill-Fraser, legal representatives, researchers, film production people, former senior detectives from interstate and anyone else working to collate the real truth and the hard facts to counter the insubstantial circumstantial evidence that saw SNF convicted in a trial that had clear hallmarks akin to southern USA “justice”.
They badgered, barged in and seized raw film in Sydney under possibly questionable warrants, used video and/or audio surveillance inappropriately it is alleged, and generally behaved as a law unto themselves against innocent people for the benefit of furthering their own misconceptions.
The Thompson case is one proof positive of how far “justice” in Tasmania has departed from the rule of law into the abuse of power and position.
‘Misconceived prosecution’: barrister Edwardson QC
After the DPP’s office abandoned its prosecution this week, Thompson’s barrister, David Edwardson QC. said:
“Frank Merenda (my junior counsel) together with John Munro (instructing solicitor) and I have been fighting this case now for some years.
“Finally when the judgements are published, everyone will appreciate how misconceived this prosecution was and why the conduct of TasPol in the context of this case is so reprehensible.
“Every now and again there is a case which is so important and this is one of them.
“Jeff Thompson was just trying to help fight for Sue Neil Fraser’s freedom. In return, his life and career was turned upside down by illegal conduct the details of which will be published in due course.
“(This) is a very important day not just for Jeff Thompson.”
Because of TasPol behaviour against those wanting the truth in the SNF case, people have fled Australia, some stopped travelling to Tasmania for fear of unwarranted arrest, and others have had their lives and careers upended.
The State of Tasmania has an awful lot to answer for.
NOTE: Both Neill-Fraser and Bromley are due to have short preliminary ‘orals’ hearings in the High Court re whether or not they will be granted full bench appeals, SNF in August and Bromley in September 2022. See “Lawyer unhassled…” article.
NOTE: Both Neill-Fraser and Bromley are due to have short preliminary ‘orals’ hearings in the High Court on appeals, SNF in August and Bromley in September 2022. See “Lawyer unhassled…” article.