Oh silly me, writing yesterday that the Federal Government could still effectively find itself on trial over AWB. David Hicks could be home sooner.

If you try to get past the single desk issue to examine what might happen next to AWB at the hands of the law, you find Philip Ruddock’s office is in charge of the multi-agency taskforce Terence Cole recommended be set up to hold another investigation into whether AWB, AWBI and the “dirty dozen” broke various criminal and civil laws.

It seems the rich array of potential action against AWB is on hold while the taskforce is established, works out which end is up, deals with the inevitable turf wars between the AFP, the Victorian police, ASIC, the Victorian DPP and the Commonwealth DPP, considers what charges might be worth prosecuting (DPPs only like to fight when they’re pretty sure they’ll win) and then maybe there’ll be a little offence bargaining (a Vizard, anyone?) before charges might finally be laid and, what with delays in the criminal court system, a trial might start sometime later this decade.

More importantly, I’ll take bets that there’ll be no defended criminal actions being argued in court before the federal election late next year. That’s when the DPP would need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that DFAT had in fact been misled.

Such is the way the system works. Convenient for some.

Meanwhile, back with Cole’s report, if you finally get to appendix 26 in Volume 5, starting on page 319 of the pdf, Tezza runs through the legal history of how you can take criminal action against the legal abstract that’s a company and what has to be proven for the various charges he recommends as well as why some charges (anti-terrorism etc) didn’t get up. The collected wisdom of Lord Diplock, Viscount Dilhorne, Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest et al is distilled for the cause, but the most intriguing reference is made in passing to a New Zealand Court of Appeal decision delivered by “Hardie Boys J”.

Whatever happened to Nancy Drew?

Peter Fray

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