Rayney verdict demands major inquiry

The not guilty verdict in the Lloyd Rayney murder trial, during which retired Chief Justice Brian Martin said WA Police behaviour had been “reprehensible” and “unacceptable”, clearly demands that the State Government hold a major inquiry – even a Royal Commission – into all aspects of police conduct. That is the only way to start restoring the confidence of the people of WA in their police force, Rex Widerstrom says.

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2 Comments

  1. The comments of Justice Brian Martin in relation to the prosecutors involved in the Rayney case are of course disturbing. One might have thought that after the criticisms of the prosecutors in WA by the Crime and Misconduct Commission following the acquittal of Andrew Mallard, there would have been a serious review of practices to ensure such things would not happen again. Obviously that has not eventuated. Given the equally disturbing cases of Gordon Wood and Jeffrey Gilhman in NSW which also involved seriously deficient prosecutorial conduct, one might even suggest that a national inquiry is now urgently needed. We migth reasonably ask whether the utilisation of a judge from outside WA was a significant factor in this case, and if so, it is clear that any inquiry should be headed by persons who are also from outside WA.

    Dr Bob Moles
  2. History has clearly shown that lessons have not been learned from the past. The issue is not just one for WA. There have been too many miscarriages of justice in this country and not enough co-ordinated action to ensure that identifed issues are meaningfully addressed. Think about cases like Andrew Mallard (WA), Graham Stafford (QLD), Gordon Wood (NSW), Jeff Gilham (NSW), Henry Keogh (SA), the Mickelbergs (WA), Button (WA), Beamish (WA) which have followed major legal and forensic embarrassments like Chamberlain and Splatt. Has the system really learned and improved? While we have a highly respected and valuable legal system, it is not perfect and we also have inadequate appeal and review mechanisms in this country that does not comply with international human rights obligations. We need a Criminal Cases Review Commission like in the UK. I commend SA for its recent moves to improve appeal rights. The Miscarriage of Justice issue is an urgent matter. It has enormous impact not only on the individuals concerned and their families. It operates to destroy public confidence in our criminal justice system. I’m all for a national Inquiry into Miscarriage of Justice cases and the legal system. The inquiry should also look at the issue of accountability and what has been done to hold those people responsible to account. The issue of the availability of just compensation for those wrongfully convicted is also screaming for attention.

    Barbara Etter

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