We invited the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania to respond to our criticism (published June 11, 2021) of its dismissal of the complaint against Stuart Wright, Meaghan Vass’ lawyer at the Sue Neill-Fraser appeal (March 1-3, 2021) and await their response. In the meantime, we publish Wright’s reply to the LPB regarding the Complaint. Trick question: who is the complaint against?
Readers can make their own assessment of the lawyer’s response.
LPB complaint form as filled in by Andy Brown on behalf of Meaghan Vass (March 9, 2021)
|Lawyer’s first name|
|Place of work (full name)|
Brief explanation of their role…
He was my friends appointed lawyer
In your words, what is your complaint?
I was a support person for meaghan vass as she had to give evidence at the sue neill fraser appeal. Firstly she was promised that the names of those mentioned as committing the crime would be supressed. It was all over the internet within hours.
Presented in LPB documents as follows:
The Complaint alleges the Practitioner:
Failed to ensure that the names of the parties the Practitioner’s client would identify as being involved in a crime would be suppressed when she was giving evidence, in order to protect his client’s safety and the integrity of his client’s evidence
From Stuart Wright’s response to the complaint (March 19, 2021)
3 (a) Ms Brown’s complaint does not disclose which legal practitioner supposedly “promised” that a suppression order would be made or when. It is not reasonably open for a complaint to be capable of being established as misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct and in the absence of the connection between the maker of the promise and practitioner or firm the subject of the complaint. *
(b) Further, I respectfully submit that Ms Brown otherwise has no standing to make a complaint of that nature and the complaint should be dismissed for that reason also. **
(c) Lastly, I note that there are matters that I am able to brig to your attention that ought, in my view, to be sufficient to justify the dismissal of the complaint, but which may arguably be confidential or privileged. I would welcome the opportunity to put those matters to you, in the event that their potential confidentiality or privilege is maintained by their not being disclosed to the complainant. ***
* The LPB appears to have been satisfied that the Complaint was against Stuart Wright himself; no mention is made in the LPB’s Consideration of any uncertainty about it.
** The LPB addressed that as follows:
It was contended by the Practitioner that the Complainant had no standing to bring a complaint because she was not his client. The Board is satisfied that the Complainant had standing to bring the complaint. Section 427(1) of the Act provides that ‘A complaint may be made about the conduct of an Australian legal practitioner by any person.’ Accordingly, there was no bar to the Complainant complaining about the conduct of the Practitioner, even though she was not his client.
*** Andy Brown complained (April 7, 2021): “i think it’s unfair if Mr Wright is allowed to give information that cannot be shared regarding this complaint. If it’s relevant then both sides should be privy to all the information or it not be allowed.” The LPB made no mention of this matter in its Consideration.
From Andy Brown’s email to the LPB re Wright’s response (March 30, 2021)
Firstly Mr Wright didn’t seem to have any issues in corresponding with me before and during the appeal re Meaghan Vass. I am always able to make contact with Meaghan and will always support her.
I am able to involve Meaghan if necessary and change the complaint from being lodged by me to her if that would make Mr Wright feel better about things. Meaghan knows about this complaint and is willing to do what she needs to in order for it to be resolved.
I cannot understand how Mr Wright wants to know which staff member of his told us that Meaghans evidence would be suppressed when it was him. He is the lawyer that was appointed to Meaghan for this appeal and it was his job to ensure her safety which he so obviously didn’t do.
We were under the impression that he was actually helping Meaghan and taking instruction from her …
Also I received an email from the head reporter from the Hobart Mercury saying he had no idea why there wasn’t any supression and it was a shock that the paper was allowed to print the names but then they had to recant later that evening…
Mr Wright single handedly unravelled that appeal by not protecting his client. He left her no choice but to back peddle on the previous days information and she came across as being no use to the appeal when this is not the case.
NOTE: This article does not deal with the second part of the complaint – regarding Andy Brown being dismissed as a Support Person to Meaghan Vass during Vass giving evidence in a separate witness room.