A Crikey investigation has revealed that the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) fought Paul Hogan and his financial advisor, Tony Stewart, in a two-year protracted court battle over access to legal professional privileged (LPP) documents, even though ACC investigators had formed the view the documents were “irrelevant”.

The revelation was disclosed in an affidavit by ACC plod Ian Andrew to the court on 4 July, 2008 that they had formed the view in March 2006 that the 35 documents in question were irrelevant. It’s hard to believe they would spend taxpayers’ money on a two year legal fight over documents they say were useless to them and gives weight to the belief that Operation Wickenby is a waste of taxpayers’ funds as the project is currently running $95 million dollars in the red. The ACC have also been ordered to pay Hogan’s legal bills.

Where is the accountability from Messrs D’Ascenzo and ACC boss Alistair Milroy? Let’s hope both leaders get a grilling from Senate Estimates or the Public Accounts and Audit Committee over this one next year.

Ian Andrew is the same copper who gave evidence last week to the Federal Court where he made the extraordinary claim that it would take a new officer up to one year to get on top of the Hogan brief if someone was replaced on the investigation team.

Compounding this fiasco I can also reveal the ACC has no policies and procedures in place to deal with LPP in their complex investigations. It’s astonishing for a crime fighting body to be obtaining thousands of documents under coercive circumstances under an Act which they agree preserves LPP.

In the MM/DD (code for Hogan and his financial advisor, Tony Stewart) proceedings at paragraph 23, Federal Court Justice Arthur Emmett said:

The Commission did not at any relevant time have any written or other documented policy in place in relation to the question of how the Commission would deal with, or treat, legal professional privilege in the event that documents were produced to it containing communications that were subject to legal professional privilege or if claims were made by the recipient of a notice in relation to legal professional privilege.