Haneef Case: Prosecutor demoted for debacle

November 14th, 2007 - 2:45 am ICT by admin  
Sources said that Porritt, a prosecutor of long standing in the Brisbane office of the DPP, was being stripped of his senior rank and demoted to a lesser position with fewer benefits and a major reduction in salary.

The decision to demote Porritt has triggered protests from fellow lawyers and calls for AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty to take responsibility for the mistakes by his officers.

orritt relied on incorrect advice from AFP officers when he gave a Brisbane magistrate in July wrong information about Dr Haneef. The former Gold Coast Hospital registrar was wrongly accused of terrorism-related offences and exonerated.

Porritt wrongly said that Dr Haneef had lived in Britain with his second cousins, both of whom were accused of being behind the attempted suicide bombings in London and Glasgow in late June.

He also wrongly told Brisbane magistrate Jacqui Payne that Dr Haneef’s old mobile phone SIM card was found in a burning jeep in Glasgow.

In fact, it was recovered hundreds of kilometres away in Liverpool, The Australian reported.

enior Brisbane criminal defence lawyer Peter Callaghan criticised the decision to demote Porritt.

Clive Porritt is a man of unimpeachable integrity whose working life has been one of exemplary public service,” said Callaghan, a former prosecutor in the Commonwealth DPP.

“It is extraordinary that he is being scapegoated over a process which involved so many others, and which was generated in the first place by the AFP,” he added.

“The buck should start and stop at the hands of the AFP, whose officers provided the misinformation and who had the primary responsibility of ensuring accuracy in information placed before the court by Porritt,” another criminal defence lawyer, Andrew Boe, said.

“He has been punished for what could only be seen as a collection of errors by a number of agencies, particularly the AFP,” he added.

Boe said Keelty had spent “an enormous amount of energy and public funds pursuing a bogus case against Dr Haneef.

Porritt’s demotion comes as Keelty, in an interview with The Bulletin magazine, claimed that he knew the charge being considered against Dr Haneef was “touch and go”.

Keelty said he had personally warned Commonwealth DPP Damian Bugg QC that there was insufficient evidence.

Bugg, in a statement before ending his contract as DPP earlier this month, repeated his earlier acknowledgement that Dr Haneef should never have been charged, and added that factual errors were put before the Brisbane Magistrates Court as a result of wrong information from the AFP.

The case collapsed in late July as a result of disclosures in The Australian of police bungling.

Dr Haneef is continuing his legal fight for the reinstatement of his visa. (ANI)

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