Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Two articles below

AFP chief 'ignored evidence' in Haneef case

A police chief who ignores evidence! Aint that just fine and dandy? I can find no mention of Chief Jabbour on the AFP site but Jabbour is a Lebanese surname and Ramzi is a Muslim given name so I am guessing that Chief Jabbour is a Lebanese Muslim. So his appointment could well have been an affirmative action one -- in which case we must not be surprised that it was a low-quality appointment. Maybe we should be more careful about appointing Muslims as police chiefs. The world has after all had a few other problems from Muslims this century too. There are quite a few things about Muslim thinking that are stupid from a Western viewpoint

The Australian Federal Police's counter-terrorism chief "lost objectivity" when assessing the case against Mohamed Haneef, ignoring or cynically interpreting evidence that strongly pointed to the former terror suspect's innocence. The long-awaited report into the Haneef affair by retired NSW Supreme Court judge John Clarke QC criticises the AFP's lead investigator, the then national manager for counter-terrorism, Ramzi Jabbour, as "unable to see that the evidence he regarded as highly incriminating in fact amounted to very little".

Mr Clarke accuses Mr Jabbour, who was sent to Queensland from Canberra to take carriage of the 700-person investigation, of selectively, even cynically, interpreting the evidence against Dr Haneef. He is found to have downplayed facts that may have weakened the case against the Indian doctor - such as Dr Haneef's attempts to contact a police officer in England after failed terror attacks in London and Glasgow in June last year. Mr Clarke further criticises Mr Jabbour for dismissing the concerns of his junior investigators, who concluded that Dr Haneef's professed ignorance about the British terror attacks was genuine.

The Clarke report, released yesterday, criticises senior bureaucrats and police for failing to pass on information pointing to the innocence of Dr Haneef, who was held in custody for nearly a month, and for viewing the most benign evidence as suspicious.

The report makes 10 recommendations, but does not call for disciplinary action. It was accompanied by a suite of changes announced by Attorney-General Robert McClelland, including a new statutory authority to review terror laws, parliamentary oversight of the AFP and extending the remit of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security to probe the AFP's conduct. The report clears then immigration minister Kevin Andrews of improper conduct in cancelling Dr Haneef's visa, but expresses "mystification" as to why Mr Andrews did it directly after Dr Haneef was granted bail.

The Immigration Department is criticised for failing to directly pass to Mr Andrews an ASIO assessment that found no evidence against Dr Haneef. Instead, the ASIO assessments were conveyed to Mr Andrews via his chief-of-staff, Michael Toby - one of the few witnesses who refused to give evidence to the government-ordered inquiry. Another witness who did not give evidence was John Howard's senior adviser, Jamie Fox, who did not receive permission from the former prime minister to give a statement to the inquiry.

Mr Clarke also finds it "troubling" that Howard government attorney-general Philip Ruddock did not seek to reconcile the conflicting assessments of Dr Haneef by the AFP and ASIO, despite both agencies falling under his ministerial responsibility.

But the report clears the AFP of acting in the service of its political masters and notes the investigation was "bedevilled" by its reliance on overseas information. Dr Haneef was arrested on July 2 last year after his mobile phone SIM card was linked to failed terror attacks in Britain. He was charged with a single count of recklessly supporting a terror organisation, but the charge was withdrawn 25 days later for lack of evidence. Mr Clarke finds the AFP was arguably within its rights to arrest Dr Haneef at Brisbane Airport, given the information available. But he criticises Mr Jabbour for ignoring the concerns of more junior officers.

Dr Haneef, who is expected to seek compensation, said an apology from the Government would be "very welcome".


Arrogant and hostile Federal "regulator" to cost taxpayers $120m compensation for its Gestapo-like behaviour

The arrogant bitches in the TGA who created this problem should be asked to cough up too. I don't blame the TGA for disliking alternative therapies (though some of the things they have approved -- such as statins -- are arguably no better) but that does not excuse ruinous Gestapo-type attacks on a law-abiding businessman and the destruction of his business. And the two devious feminazis at the heart of the TGA action -- Fiona Cumming and Rita Maclachlan -- are apparently still in their jobs! Their involvement in the destruction of records should in fact lead to criminal charges being laid against them

The Rudd Government faces a possible $120 million compensation payout after 165 shareholders, creditors and customers of the collapsed Pan Pharmaceuticals company launched a class action in the Federal Court yesterday. Lawyers acting for clients including retailers and pharmacists began action to recoup huge losses after the sudden recall of 1600 Pan-produced vitamins and health supplements in 2003. The legal firm running the class action says it is confident after the Government agreed to a $55 million compensation payout for Pan founder Jim Selim in August.

Action against the Government follows the largest product recall in Australia and the suspension of Pan's licence by the commonwealth-run Therapeutic Goods Administration. In a statement of claim, lawyers for the aggrieved parties say the product recall went ahead despite the TGA conducting audits in 2003 that revealed no critical deficiencies in products manufactured by the company. The TGA also allegedly had not tested any of the products manufactured by Pan that were the subject of the recall and had not received any consumer complaints. It had been told by an expert advisory group there was no imminent risk of death, serious illness or injury from Pan products. A year earlier, the TGA had given Pan "a very good assessment" of its facilities.

The product recall at Pan, which previously supplied about 70 per cent of Australia's therapeutic products market, led to the company's collapse. Action against the federal Government is being led by litigation funding giant IMF and legal firm McLachlan Thorpe Partners, which also represented Mr Selim.

According to the claim against the Government, the TGA had no rational grounds to consider that any, or alternatively the vast bulk, of the products manufactured by Pan constituted any risk of death, serious injury or illness. The suspension of Pan's products allegedly proceeded "in an environment of suspicion, gossip, improper motivations, irrelevant considerations and a pedantic and unreliable audit of Pan, in 2003", according to the claim against the Government.

Referring to TGA audit reports in February and April 2003, lawyers for the aggrieved parties allege: "The said audit reports were pedantic to the point of bias, lacked rigour, were misleading in material respects, were unverifiable and omitted to record relevant matters, such that no rational reliance could be placed on the audit and the records."

It is also alleged in court-filed documents that some of the TGA respondents to the claim - Terry Slater, Rita McLachlan and Robert Tribe - actively set out to mislead Pan "with respect to their intention to take dramatic action (including the suspension or cancellation of licences) against Pan; and otherwise set out to keep secret that intention so as to ensure surprise, and to ensure that neither Pan nor sponsors would have any opportunity of preventing the action by correcting the TGA's mistakes or otherwise seeking relief available in law". The action is being taken against the commonwealth of Australia and former TGA officers Mr Slater, Ms McLachlan, Mr Tribe, Pio Cesarin and Noel Fraser.

Settlement of the Selim case in August was the first made with the consent of the commonwealth in the area of "misfeasance in public office" and involving such a big payout to an individual. IMF, which usually underwrites litigation in which the total claim exceeds $2 million, has current cases against Centro Properties, Opes Prime, Westpoint and AWB. IMF and McLachlan Thorpe Partners, acting for Pharmacare Laboratories Pty Ltd as the representative party in the proceedings, represent a total of 165 sponsors, customers, creditors of Pan, as well as distributors and retailers of Pan products. The total claim for losses exceeds $120million.


No dissent allowed at Leftist radio station

A radio show broadcast in Wollongong that aired corruption allegations about the ALP, including allegations about the state MP Noreen Hay, has been shut down with the help of local police. The broadcaster Paul Matters, a former head of the South Coast Labour Council, was removed from the station by Wollongong police on Saturday when he arrived at Vox FM in Wollongong to broadcast his program, Struggle Street. Mr Matters had presented the program, which examines issues related to unemployed people, for 12 years. More recently he had aired material about alleged corruption in Wollongong and criticised what he saw as Ms Hay's inappropriate relationships with developers.

Ms Hay, who was named in a wiretap played to corruption hearings into Wollongong council earlier this year but was not named as a person of interest by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, is one of Vox FM's advertisers.

Mr Matters and his supporters claimed he was removed so as to shut down discussion about the ALP's alleged role in corruption. The station's board of directors disputed the censorship accusations, saying Mr Matters's aggressive behaviour was the reason for his removal. No charges were laid against Mr Matters. "Disciplinary action has been taken against a small number of Vox members for behavioural issues constituting unacceptable conduct within the workplace," the secretary of the Vox board, Hanno Stanojevic, said yesterday.

He later told the Herald the board was unhappy with some of the accusations broadcast by Mr Matters. "Paul was moving away from talking about unemployment to talking about corruption, including allegations he made about our dealings with council about our new premises."

Mr Stanojevic said the station called the police because it was worried about what Mr Matters might do, following a rowdy meeting the previous Thursday involving board members, Mr Matters and some of his supporters. Mr Stanojevic said a threat made earlier in the year by Ms Hay to sue Mr Matters, Vox FM and its board of directors, was a concern. "She felt the stories were not correct and she told us to run a correction and to stop more stories being broadcast," he said. "We don't know if the stories were right or wrong but our solicitor and insurers warned us we were in a bit of trouble."

Mr Matters told the Herald the program had always had a political edge but that ALP interests connected with the station had been unhappy with his attacks on the party. "We said the most outrageous things about John Howard and there was not a peep out of [the board of directors]. The problems began when we started talking about the ALP," Mr Matters said. "Hay is a sponsor of the station, which is unusual for a politician," he said.

Ms Hay said she knew nothing about any corruption allegations against her but did write to the station about derogatory remarks Mr Matters had made about her physical appearance. "My letter said to tell [Mr Matters] to desist making personal comments about me," Ms Hay said. "I am still a sponsor of the station and will continue to be," she said.

Mr Matters, who is also a member of the group Wollongong Against Corruption, yesterday vowed to present his program every Saturday morning in the Wollongong mall in front of Ms Hay's office and to "name names".

Vox FM said Struggle Street would return to air in the new year with a different presenter.


Attention-seeking a*holes warn Christmas lights harm the planet

Just for that I am going to leave my Xmas lights on day and night

Scientists have warned that Christmas lights are bad for the planet due to huge electricity waste and urged people to get energy efficient festive bulbs. CSIRO researchers said householders should know that each bulb turned on in the name of Christmas will increase emissions of greenhouse gases.

Dr Glenn Platt, who leads research on energy demand, said Australia got 80 per cent of its electricity by burning coal which pumps harmful emissions into the atmosphere. He said: "Energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, and putting your Christmas lights on a timer are two very easy ways to minimise the amount of electricity you use to power your lights." He said the nation's electricity came from "centralised carbon intensive, coal-based power stations" which were responsible for emitting over one third of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Dr Platt added: "For a zero-emission Christmas light show, you may consider using solar powered lights or sourcing your electricity from verified green power suppliers."


Misbehaving police get slaps on the wrist

Senior police are feeling the heat from the Crime and Misconduct Commission over their allegedly light-handed treatment of rogue officers. On eight occasions in the past year, the CMC has taken action in the Misconduct Tribunal against commissioned officers over their findings in disciplinary matters.

In one case, the CMC appealed against a finding by Assistant Commissioner Peter Swindells that excess force allegations brought against a junior officer could not be proved. Constable Patrick Gardiner was accused of slapping, kicking and punching offenders at the Brisbane City Beat Office and the City Botanical Gardens on 14 occasions in 2004. One charge alleged the constable removed the handcuffs from a man in custody and enticed him into a fight. But Mr Swindells found all but one of the allegations were unsubstantiated and did not impose any sanctions on the officer.

The CMC claimed Mr Swindells was wrong to require proof of the charges "to the criminal standard". It also said his decision not to sanction Constable Gardiner was inadequate and failed to "properly reflect the need for deterrence". The case is ongoing.

In another matter, the Misconduct Tribunal upheld part of an appeal by the CMC against Assistant Commissioner George Nolan, in relation to an officer who allegedly failed to abandon a car chase as directed. The CMC took action when Mr Nolan found the charges against Sen-Constable Dennis Martyn should be downgraded from misconduct to breaches of discipline and found claims he lied in interviews with senior police were unsubstantiated.

Three other matters brought by the CMC were abandoned and two more appeals are continuing.


1 comment:

WhimAndAPrayer said...

The conspiracy theory that Mr Paul Matters was removed from Vox FM's Struggle Street program because of Noreen Hay is a red herring. Paul's intimidating disruptive behaviour toward Vox staff and members is the real problem.

Vox's AGM on 28 October was a prime example. Paul was seen to ridicule the views of others; allege unethical conduct by decent staff members for following the lawful directions of the Board; speciously accuse others of defamation for questioning his conduct whilst astonishingly demanding for himself the right to speak unfettered; falsely accuse people of biased political affiliations; frequent snide remarks and heckling, in disregard of numerous warnings, while others were trying to exercise their right to be fairly heard; tell others in a hostile manner that he will "see them outside"; demand and jot down the names of others while threatening lawsuits against them; impugn the motives of others; malign the diligence of the Board; and even went so ridiculously far as to grubbily insinuate a link between the Wollongong corruption scandal and the Vox's procurement of its new Coniston home. The AGM turned into an onerously lengthy saga. When one Board member sincerely appealed for everyone present to talk respectfully to each other instead of "cutting each other's throats", Paul's glib obstinate remark was "That's democracy".

In short, along with a small group of internal belligerents who have for no apparent good reason sought to derail Vox FM's move to its new home in Coniston, Paul has ostensibly been running interference, undermining the Board and staff, and verbally harassing others. Meanwhile, Vox's current home is crumbling around it. The move has been in the planning for over 2 years. It has long since been formally endorsed by the Board and majority of members who want the station to move forward with positive change (not spending a great deal of time, energy and emotion having to deal with uncompromising malcontents).