Flinders University legal academic Dr Bob Moles last week accused Acting Attorney-General of SA Josh Teague to have demonstrated “a lack of honesty and diligence” in relation to former state forensic pathologist Dr Colin Manock’s documented failures and lack of qualifications which should have been declared by the DPP in the pending High Court appeal by Derek Bromley.
“You will be aware of my concern that matters currently before the High Court may proceed without the court being notified of defects relating to Dr Manock’s qualifications and the adverse judgments made concerning him in numerous legal proceedings,” writes Moles, in response to a letter from Teague addressed to the Premier and the Acting Attorney-General.
“If that were to occur, it may well constitute a breach by the Director of Public Prosecutions of his duty of disclosure which as I have explained is owed “to the court”. I have asked the Acting Attorney-General to exercise the relevant power to ensure that such a breach does not occur. In his letter to me the Acting Attorney-General states: Section 9 (1) of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1991 provides that “the Director is entirely independent of direction or control by the Crown or any Minister or officer of the Crown”. He then adds: It would therefore be inappropriate for me to seek to direct or influence decision making in this matter.”
But Moles points to the Ministerial Code of Conduct:
2.4 Ministers are expected to act honestly, diligently and with propriety in the performance of their public duties and functions. Ministers must ensure they do not deliberately mislead the public … on any matter of significance arising from their functions.
“I believe that in stating the words from the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, and to then express the opinion based on that limited extract as Mr Teague has done is misleading, and that his statement to me demonstrates a lack of honesty and diligence in relation to this matter. The words that he quoted from S 9.1 of the Act are preceded by the words, “Subject to this section” which he did not refer to. Those words indicate that ‘this section’ provides an exception to the general provision which he quoted.
“S 9 (2) of the Act which he also failed to refer to then states: The Attorney-General may, after consultation with the Director, give directions and furnish guidelines to the Director in relation to the carrying out of his or her functions.”
S 9 sub-section (3) of the DPP Act makes provision with regard to the publishing of any direction which is given to the Director, and sub-section (4) then makes a special provision “in relation to directions or guidelines under this section relating to individual matters”. This makes it clear that the Acting Attorney-General has the power to issue a direction or guideline to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to an ‘individual matter’.
“It is the individual matter of Mr Bromley’s case which is of specific and immediate concern. It is currently listed before the High Court as an application for Special Leave to appeal. The Director of Public Prosecutions has lodged a response to the Applicant’s Application for Special Leave which fails to make any reference to the matters which I have raised with you in our previous correspondence.”
In that previous correspondence, Moles “referred to judgments of the courts which have stated that the securing of a wrongful conviction by evidence which is known to be false and misleading constitutes ‘an unspeakable outrage’, ‘criminal misconduct of the worst possible kind’ and ‘corruption at the extreme end of official corruption’. Of course, those cases only envisaged a single case in which such things had occurred. It is clear that they never contemplated the possibility that a single state official (a pathologist) could help to secure over 400 wrongful convictions by giving perjured evidence to the court about his status, his qualifications and the evidence which he gave in those cases.”
Not a small matter.
South Australia’s Manock scandal: Australia’s biggest legal scandal