Clair fails to rule out new probe

by Chris Griffith
Published 29 Sep 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


Criminal Justice Commission chairman Frank Clair yesterday refused to rule out initiating yet another inquiry - this time into recent allegations of a leak involving CJC chief investigator Mark Le Grand.

Mr Clair reaffirmed that the CJC might conduct or sponsor its own investigation into National Party backbencher Allan Grice's claim in State Parliament that Mr Le Grand leaked highly confidential information about Operation Wallah in May 1994.

Mr Clair would not rule out a CJC-initiated investigation despite State Cabinet's decision to refer the allegations to the government's planned judicial inquiry into the CJC.

If Mr Clair proceeds, Queensland faces the prospect of two separate inquiries investigating the same incident at the same time.

Tomorrow State Cabinet is expected to finalise details of the terms of reference of its planned CJC review.

Mr Clair's refusal to rule out a parallel investigation comes on top of his decision last week to ask retired judge Bill Carter QC to conduct a preliminary review of the CJC's proposed inquiry into police corruption in Queensland.

Yesterday Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee chairman Vince Lester said he was totally against Mr Clair initiating an investigation into Mr Grice's claims.

He said he could not imagine how the CJC could act independently and commission an investigation into Mr Le Grand's role, when Mr Clair had publicly backed Mr Le Grand against Mr Grice's claims.

"If they initiate the investigation, that person would have to report back to Mr Clair who would then decide what he would do about it.

"That would be very definitely out of order and would clearly be a case of Caesar judging Caesar".

Mr Lester said Mr Le Grand had not been stood aside while the accusations were investigated.

Mr Le Grand has persistently denied leaking any operational details.

Mr Clair said: "the prime consideration is to ensure any investigation of these allegations, whoever might carry them out, is and is seen to be objective and independent".

Mr Grice said any CJC-initiated investigation could be thwarted because the CJC would not have willing access to witnesses such as former ABC journalist Chris Nicholls and documentary evidence held by Mr Grice.

Mr Grice was referring to statements, telephone records, and other alleged evidence of the leak, material he used when preparing his speech which accused Mr Le Grand of being the source of the Wallah leak in 1994.

Mr Nicholls claims that on May 9, 1994, Mr Le Grand handed him Operational documents prepared by the Queensland Bureau of Criminal Intelligence referred to in the Senate two days later by South Australian Senator Grant Chapman.

Operation Wallah investigated the alleged supply of prostitutes to former Senator Graham Richardson.

Mr Grice said he would fight any attempt by the CJC to force him to hand over the documents which he said were protected by parliamentary privelege.

He said the documents were source material for his speech accusing Mr Le Grand of the leak made in State Parliament on September 13.

He said the CJC could be in breach of the Queensland Constitution and could be acting unlawfully if it tried to seize his evidence.

The CJC Act gives the CJC the power to enter premisis, search and seize documents, and to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath.

by Chris Griffith