Crikey had a polite skirmish with the
Packer empire last week over our reporting of the $4,500 consultancy
fees that were paid to former One.Tel finance officer Samantha Randall,
who gave evidence in ASIC’s $92 million civil action against Jodee Rich
and Mark Silbermann.

We accepted their argument that it is
perfectly reasonable for One.Tel insiders to be paid as part of the
piecing together of what happened in the 2001 collapse of the telco.

The Australian
also carried a small correction 11 days ago for running a similar line
but today most of the papers have latched on to the story of a second
witness, former One.Tel UK finance executive Drew Boaden, being paid by
the Packer camp, this time partly through a first class airfare from
London to Sydney and six nights accommodation at Crown Casino.

The Australian and The SMH
both ran strongly with the story and this time there are plenty of
quotes about the law firm representing the Packers and the Murdochs
making contact before ASIC had been to see Boaden about his evidence.

All
of this raises questions about what payments, if any, witnesses should
receive in civil and criminal cases. Sure, covering costs is one thing
– look at the $2,000 a day that Warren Anderson has agreed to pay
former Packer finance director Don Burke for giving evidence in his
action against the West Australian government over the botched
Rothwells rescue.

But is first class flights and accommodation
in luxury hotels away from the city where the court case and
investigation is taking place a different kettle of fish? The hundreds
of lawyers who get Crikey Daily are encouraged to let us know the
protocols of paying witnesses. Please email [email protected]

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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