This whole matter stinks of incompetence and cover-up, and adds one more sordid note to the travesty that has surrounded Sue Neill-Fraser’s murder conviction 12 years ago. In my view, there are three glaring aspects of this saga that demand answers.
First is that a warrant Police obtained to secretly record a conversation between Sue Neill-Fraser’s former lawyer, Mr Jeffrey Thompson, and a Risdon prisoner has been found to be invalid. This activity five years ago, and police have been pursuing Mr Thompson through the courts ever since. Now, in a judgment from July this year, Supreme Court Justice Brett declared the warrant invalid because it failed to properly specify the alleged offence in respect of which it was issued. So what were the actual grounds for the issuing of the original warrant? What affidavits were relied on?
In the interests of justice, it is important that suppression orders are lifted so that the public can see exactly why police went on to pursue Mr Thompson for five years based on this evidence.
Secondly, we now find that police illegally left the surveillance device recording continuously at Risdon Prison for two months. This is not a technical breach and it beggars belief that at the time the police did not realise what they were doing was wrong. It is simply not believable that they didn’t download or monitor other parts of the recording – they would have had to in order to find the relevant meetings. What other illegal recordings do they have?
The integrity of police is in shreds, surely. What were their motives when it appears they were so willing to undermine an important pillar of our justice system? There are so many question that need to be answered.
Thirdly, there are serious questions over the independence of an inquiry commissioned by Tasmania Police themselves. Former Solicitor-General Michael O’Farrell cannot bring an objective and independent mind to this inquiry. Mr O’Farrell made written statements on 16 May 2017 rejecting assertions that Tasmania Police had acted improperly in its investigation of the Susan Neil-Fraser matter; however, we now know that Mr Thompson was at the time targeted by police investigation because of his involvement in the Neill-Fraser case and subsequently the police conducted this unlawful surveillance. Mr O’Farrell, in his former role as Solicitor-General, has been closely linked to Neil-Fraser case and as such is not independent. The Government must immediately establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate this and all aspects of the Susan Neill-Fraser conviction because the public deserve to know the truth and have confidence in the justice system.