Four lunches everybody forgot

by Chris Griffith
Published 4 April 1993 in The Sun-Herald


my face


Four lunches, claimed as expenses by former Secretary to Cabinet, Stuart Tait, have been disputed by people who were supposed to be at the lunches.

The lunches were at the heart if a major Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) investigation involving Mr Tait and alleged misuse of his departmental expense claim.

Mr Tait, referring to information revealed this week for the first time by The Sun- Herald, said he was sick and tired of being investigated by the media.

"Why don't you get lost?" he said.

The lunches were among 32 issues surrounding Mr Tait's use of expenses examined by the CJC last year.

In August the CJC reported that 10 of these issues held prima facie evidence for the CJC to recommend action by the Director of Prosecutions.

However, Director of Prosecutions Royce Miller dismissed the CJC report and declared that no action would be taken against Mr Tait.

The Sun-Herald has revealed that four of the 10 prima facie cases were luncheons. But people whom Mr Tait claims accompanied him would not confirm or deny lunching with him.

Mr Tait claimed that in November 1989 he dined with Professor Patrick Weller at the Lands Office Hotel, but our inquiries show that Professor Weller claimed to be overseas;

Mr Tait claimed that in November 1989 he dined with Professor Weller in the company of Dr Glyn Davis at Parrot's Restaurant, but our inquiries show Prof Weller and Dr Davis claimed they were not there;

Mr Tait claimed that in December 1989 he lunched with Prof Weller at the United Services Club but our inquiries show Professor Weller claimed he was not there.

Mr Tait claimed that in March 1990 he lunched with Prof Weller at the Lands Office Hotel but our inquiries show Professor Weller claimed he was not there.

Mr Tait also claimed in February 1990 he lunched with former Fitzgerald report Implementation Unit head Peter Forster at the Chinatown Garden Restaurant. However our inquiries show Mr Forster claimed he was in Cairns.

When questioned about the differing recollections on the luncheons, Mr Tait said he did not know what was claimed and did not know what the CJC had sent to the Director of Prosecutions.

He said it was time for the public to question who was behind the information the media was getting.

Dr Davis said he was aware of the claimed luncheons and the disputed accounts but believed the evidence had been considered by the Director of Prosecutions before Mr Tait was cleared of possible charges.

"If you want to know why Mr Tait wasn't charged, ask the Director of Prosecutions," he said.

The CJC and former Fitzgerald report implementation unit head, Peter Forster, and Mr Miller refused to comment on the matter.

Prof Weller also refused to confirm or deny lunching with Tait.

Prof Weller said he would contact CJC chairman Rob O'Regan because he believed details about Tait's lunches had been leaked by the Commission.

by Greg Abbott and Chris Griffith

Evidence was "shaky", says Miller

The Director of Prosecutions, Royce Miller, QC, has spoken out for the first time in outlining his reasons for not mounting a prosecution against Mr Stuart Tait.

Mr Miller said he could not go into every detail of the issues given to him by the Criminal Justice Commission, but believed his office had done a thorough

"The evidence was very clearly analysed," Mr Miller said.

He said that, given this and regarding possible defences by Mr Tait, the Office of the Director of Prosecutions believed the case was an "open one".

"We believed we could not get a guilty verdict beyond reasonable doubt," Mr Miller said.

He said the evidence against Mr Tait was "shaky" and that it would be questionable to expect a jury of 12 to convict on the evidence.

"We also thought, given the evidence and the possible outcome of a not-guilty verdict, it was not worth putting Mr Tait through a trial," he said.

Questioned on the conflicting evidence on lunches that Mr Tait claimed, Mr Miller said he could not remember every detail of the case.

by Greg Abbott