Now that he’s dead, the truth about the colourful Al Grassby is tumbling out. Yesterday, the Sun Herald revealed that Grassby spent the past 25 years with wife and mistress, sharing them between Sydney and Canberra. And today, the Herald Sun
reports the allegation that the detective who arrested Grassby 18 years
ago says the National Crime Authority bowed to political pressure not
to fully investigate his mafia links.

Not many people who claimed to know Grassby got him right. Only Mungo MacCallum in a frank assessment in the Sydney Morning Herald
ten days ago had the balance right, with an assessment of his links to
the Griffith mafia and his foul defaming of the wife and family of
murdered anti-drugs campaigner, Donald McKay. Bob Bottom was another
who wrote about Grassby’s role in the links to the Calabrian town of
Plati and the Barbaro family, many of whom were involved in drugs and
other offences in Australia.

Today’s Herald Sun story by Keith Moor, “Grassby Crimes Cover-up”, seems to blow the lid on Grassby’s crime connections:

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The detective who arrested controversial federal MP Al
Grassby 18 years ago claims the National Crime Authority bowed to
political pressure not to fully investigate his mafia links.

Retired NCA senior investigator Bruce Provost said he had no doubt the
Whitlam Labor government minister was paid to commit crimes and do
favours for the Calabrian mafia.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the NCA’s inquiry, Mr Provost said Mr Grassby was firmly in the mafia’s pocket.

He said there was more than enough intelligence on Mr Grassby to warrant a full investigation, but he was held back by the NCA.

And as the story of Al Grassby’s amazing double life in the Sun Herald revealed:

This is the extraordinary tale of one man, two women, two funerals and a messy, looming legal battle.

To the haunting lament of an Irish piper, flamboyant “father of
multiculturalism” Al Grassby was farewelled from this world two Fridays
ago by his devoted wife of 43 years, Ellnor, at St Christopher’s
Catholic Cathedral in Canberra.

Six days later, to the romantic strumming of a flamenco guitar at St
Patrick’s church in Sydney, Angela Chan, Grassby’s self-described
partner of 25 years, tearfully farewelled her “inspiration and

But as Grassby’s memory fades in the minds of his comrades, it remains
alive and bitter-sweet for Ms Chan, 50, and never married, and Mrs
Grassby, 66, who have startlingly different versions of their lives
with “loveable Al”.

So much for all the words about Grassby’s “colourful life”. It was more
than it seemed, and it looks like keeping us entertained for some time.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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