It is not often that a Police Commissioner is as rude to his political masters as the AFP’s Mick Keelty was last week to Attorney-General Robert McClelland. Mr McClelland, obviously bemused at the fact that Australia’s most secretive organisation, ASIO, is able to make publicly available its submission to the Haneef Inquiry (whereas as the supposedly more transparent AFP has not), told Mr Keelty he might like to rethink his position. Take a flying leap, was the gist of Mr Keelty’s reply.

The AFP has been telling the man heading the Haneef Inquiry, John Clarke, that it cannot make its submission publicly available because the UK Metropolitan Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service of the United Kingdom, have “objected to a significant proportion of the documents held by the Australian Federal Police, containing United Kingdom sourced and derived material, being provided to the Inquiry except under severely restricted conditions. Such was the concern of those authorities, who are anxious to protect the integrity of the criminal trials which are about to commence in the United Kingdom, that they declined to permit the Australian Federal Police to authorise the publication of any of those documents by the Inquiry,” Mr Clarke’s July 25 statement said.

Hang on, what trials? The only connection Dr Haneef had with the UK was that he gave his SIM Card to his cousin Sabeel Ahmed when he was about to leave the UK in 2006 to return to India. Sabeel’s brother Kafeel was involved in unsuccessful terror attacks in London and Glasgow in June last year, driving a Jeep Cherokee into the doors of Glasgow airport and setting himself alight. Kafeel later died from burns to 90% of his body, and Sabeel was charged and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment in April this year for refusing to disclose information about the Glasgow attack and another failed attack in London, and a month later deported to India.

As sources close to the Haneef matter told Crikey, “the only connector between Dr. Haneef and the Metropolitan Police Service is the SIM card which Dr. Haneef gave to Sabeel who has been proven not to have had anything to do with the events in London and Glasgow. Metropolitan Police Service knows that. They sent someone out to liaise but she never asked to see Dr. Haneef. The Metropolitan Police Service told the world pretty quickly that they didn’t want to extradite Dr. Haneef,” they said.

So what are these documents held by the AFP that their UK counterparts want kept under lock and key? Surely, the public is entitled to know at least the nature of this documentation, even if the substance is not publicly revealed.

And what do the AFP and their UK counterparts mean by the statement that the integrity of criminal trials needs to be protected? Is it seriously being suggested that the public release of material in Australia will impact on criminal trials in London?

And speaking of the UK, what was the role of the AFP’s London office in the Haneef matter? There is speculation that the London office told AFP HQ in Canberra prior to Dr Haneef’s arrest in July last year that there was no evidence against him and he should not be arrested. If this was the case, once again the public is surely entitled to know.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey