I spoke with Mr Perrett, a former lawyer, who said he was disappointed with the response and intended writing to the AFP to ask them to reconsider their decision. While he understood the logic of the AFP, Mr Perrett pointed out there are now 198 days to the election, 198 days pivotal to the electoral fortunes of both the Government and the now Independent member for Fisher, Peter Slipper.
Peter Slipper, understandably, can’t wait for the AFP to kick into gear. When we asked Peter to give us his thoughts, he appeared more upbeat about the decision than Perrett:
It is clear that the AFP is taking Mr Perrett's complaint against Mr Brough very seriously…Mr Slipper points out, correctly, that the AFP has it wrong about there being an appeal in train; in fact, only leave to appeal has been sought, and only by Ashby's lawyer Michael Harmer — not Ashby, and certainly not Brough, who is not even a party to the action:
While Justice Rares made adverse findings against a number of people who were not parties to the action (Brough, Doane and Harmer), only Harmer has sought leave to appeal. An appeal is not as of right and can only occur if leave is granted by the Court.
To my knowledge, Brough and Doane (unlike Harmer) are not seeking to contest the Judge's adverse findings against them and thus have not sought leave of the Court to challenge His Honour’s findings.
It gets worse, because those bloodhounds at the AFP have got it doubly wrong; 30 May 2013, as pointed out in another previous IA article, is not the date for hearing any sort of appeal – leave to or otherwise – it is actually date of the scheduled costs hearing against Mr Ashby (a date I’m sure Mr Slipper is very much looking forward to):
Emmett J determined the hearing date for Mr Slipper’s costs would be 30 May and concluded that, because of this deadline, the Full Bench hearing would need to be held earlier in May.So, let’s get this straight: there are no current appeals; there is someone else, quite separate from Mal Brough and James Ashby, seeking leave to appeal — but no actual appeals. And no-one is even seeking leave to appeal on the date mentioned by the AFP — May 30.
The general gist is that the Federal Court will either reject or grant the applications for leave to appeal and, if either is granted, the matter(s) would be heard straight away.
After this half-arsed and highly inaccurate letter from Australia’s highest law-enforcement body, you might expect Peter Slipper to be disappointed from the response, and so he is:
In these circumstances it is difficult to understand why the AFP has suspended/postponed (though not cancelled) its investigation of the matters raised in Mr Perrett’s letter to the AFP Commissioner.
It will be interesting to see how long the LNP is prepared to tolerate unresolved matters concerning Mr Brough.
Peter Slipper ends by suggesting Mal Brough, the LNP candidate for Fisher, will be unlikely to contest the next election:
…this must be a concern for the LNP or at least those members of the LNP who still want him to be their candidate. Many LNP members would be pleased….And one last thing — take a look at the AFP letter and note the handwritten date there, of 14 February 2013, compared to the letter’s receipt date of 26 February 2013.
I would be very surprised if Mr Brough is still the LNP candidate at the election to be held on September 14.
UPDATE: 2/3/13; 11am: It is said above the James Ashby has not sought leave to appeal. This is incorrect. Ashby has sought leave and both his and Harmer's leave to appeal case will be heard in the Federal Court. Here is the Court's online file: http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/case-management-services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/court-documents/ashby-v-commonwealth. The second (Harmer) and third (Ashby) documents are the Leave to appeal applications of Harmer and Ashby. The date of the court hearing is the 2nd and 3rd of May before their honours Mansfield, Siopis and Gilmore, Court 1, Level 21.
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