This is the entire AFP statement about its closure of the Haneef investigation, issued late on Friday afternoon:

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) can confirm that today it advised Mr Rod Hodgson, Solicitor acting on behalf of Dr Mohamed Haneef, that the AFP has recently informed the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs that Dr Haneef is no longer a person of interest.

The AFP has concluded its active inquiries, although some long standing overseas inquiries are yet to be fully resolved. At the present time, there is insufficient evidence to institute proceedings against Dr Haneef for any criminal offence.

So there. Dr Haneef is off the hook – although, of course, you never know what those “long-standing overseas inquiries” might yet turn up.

Chris Merritt in The Australian rightly ripped into the AFP on Saturday, accusing them of trying to bury the announcement late on a Friday with Fairfax journalists on strike. Dead right.

And it’s only the last in a long series of embarrassments for the AFP in relation to the Haneef case. They’ve been catalogued innumerable times. They’d be hilarious if they didn’t amount to a nightmare for the innocent victim of the AFP’s bungling. And throughout, there has been a consistent theme — Mick Keelty’s unwillingness to accept a shred of responsibility. He has blamed everyone else but his own officers for the disaster — the Commonwealth DPP, the Poms, Kevin Andrews, Haneef’s lawyers for leaking material, Haneef himself for not cooperating, and most of all the media. Back in January, Keelty called for the media to be muzzled in terrorism cases so that they couldn’t expose the sort of f-ck-ups inflicted by the AFP on Haneef.

And Keelty’s refusal to accept responsibility is the real reason why the “investigation” of Haneef allegedly continued up until last week. Everyone else thought Haneef was innocent. Even the right-wing paranoiacs at ASIO thought so. Keelty himself admitted that he shouldn’t have been charged. But on the AFP went, pretending that there was still some serious possibility that they could ping a terrorist.

The cost of this extended exercise in a-se-covering steadily grew. By December last year, the cost had reached $7.5m, including a $1.6m overtime bill. By May, the cost had reached $8.2m. Keelty justified the burgeoning cost of an investigation into an innocent man by declaring that it related to matters arising from last year’s terrorist plots in the UK other than Haneef. He has never elaborated on what exactly they are. Only $3.2m of the $8.2m, Keelty claimed, had been spent directly on investigating Haneef. No breakdown for these figures has ever been provided.

Crikey asked the AFP for information on the total cost of the investigation now that it had been concluded, but it did not respond by deadline. Our own pro-rata calculations suggest that, based on Keelty’s Estimates evidence, the AFP was blowing about $37,000 a week on the investigation, and would have racked up more than $500,000 since May in additional costs. This brings the total cost of the investigation close to $8.8m.

There was many reasons why Mick Keelty should resign — should have resigned last year, in fact. But the most fundamental is his persistent refusal to accept responsibility for what the AFP did in the Haneef case, and his attempts to lay the blame elsewhere. His determination to continue wasting taxpayers’ money on an effort to cover his own backside shows just how obsessive Keelty is about ducking responsibility for what is one of the worst stains on Federal law enforcement in its history.

Peter Fray

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