Two prominent Australians are presently under investigation for perjury. They are Justice Marcus Einfeld AO QC in Sydney and Steve Vizard in Melbourne.

Remember that neither of these men has been charged with perjury, let alone convicted. They are innocent until convicted.

Perjury is a serious matter. Indeed, Justice Einfeld himself has sat as a judge in a matter where perjury was raised (see paragraphs 66-68) so he knows something about it. Perjury charges against a judge are extremely rare, even in the US. I am unaware of one in Australia, although Justice Lionel Murphy came close on similar charges.

Here are some leading sentencing cases from the NSW CCA.

Mahoney 2004 “The principle is well established in our administration of the system of justice that a false statement on oath or affirmation given before a court is regarded a serious offence, which ordinarily should result in a significant penalty of full-time imprisonment. Perjury undermines and subverts the system of justice. Unless corrected, it can lead the courts into error and injustice. Such conduct on the part of witnesses or parties giving evidence on oath or affirmation in our courts needs to be deterred. This end can only be achieved by punishment, which is real and substantial, as distinct from some penalty which is merely nominal or illusory.”

Chapman (a police officer) 21/05/98 “Those concerned in the administration of the law must be taken to appreciate the supreme importance of truthful evidence being given in judicial proceedings.” … “He must be taken to have known, better than most, how important the curial procedure is, and with what respect it must be treated.”

Bulliman 25/02/93 NSW CCA “False evidence strikes at the whole basis of the administration of justice and indeed, it undermines the whole basis of it. Justice inevitably suffers, whatever be the motive for the making of false statements on oath and whatever be the circumstances in which the offence or offences are committed. The purpose of an appropriate sentence in this class of case is not only to punish the offender, but to deter others and make plain that the commission of this type of offence will normally be visited with serious punishment.”

And let us not forget Lord Jeffrey Archer who was sentenced to 4 years jail for perjury in 2001.

Peter Fray

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