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Legal

LET HIM LIVE: The sickening persecution of Brian Burke must end

Just as we suspected, the case against former WA Premier Brian Burke brought by that state’s notorious Corruption and Crime Commission appears fundamentally flawed.

All perjury cases are difficult to make out because they require proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused knew they were lying. We have seen no evidence suggesting any such thing.

Indeed there is now clear evidence showing Burke’s intention to tell the truth and indeed evidence of him encouraging others to tell the truth to the Commission:

Earlier, the court was played a secretly recorded phone conversation in which Mr Burke spoke with Ms Morgan about her evidence to the CCC in 2006.

In the tapes, Mr Burke is heard to tell Ms Morgan that they should both tell the truth.

“The best thing is just to tell them what happened … if you can’t remember anything, Beryle, don’t make it up,” Mr Burke says in one phone call.

In another call he is heard to say, “at the end of the day people get into trouble for these sorts of things for not telling the truth”.

Burke says not unreasonably that as a very busy man, not always in the best of health,  he was occasionally muddled on some detail around facts in explaining events to Commission interrogators.

It is also clear the Commission interrogators deliberately did as little as possible to assist their witness’s recollections. Hardly the actions of an independent law enforcement agency interested in getting to the truth of what went on. They wanted scalps – in particular Brian Burke’s scalp – to excuse their enormous expense of taxpayer money on finding a seething underbelly of public sector corruption in Western Australia that is simply not there and has probably never existed.

If they couldn’t get him on anything substantive, they’d try to trip him up with an incorrect but innocent recollection. It’s the kind of Star Chamber justice that has no place in our system of justice.

The WA Corruption czar Len Roberts-Smith himself has been accused of having a biased agenda because he was once sacked as Brian Burke’s lawyer. We suspect none of the WA CCC brigade need any personal reason to have a vendetta, their approach is institutional: take on big targets, soft targets in politics to get big headlines. Go easy on the organised crime folk because they after all might shoot you in the head.

When the Commission’s interrogators made mistakes about facts that was either ignored or deemed to be innocent. Even the slightest trip-up by Burke was conflated into a conspiracy. His every action deemed guilty and insidious.

And it’s that lack of reason, decency and commonsense that has done so much to discredit the Commission’s claims against Burke, the Commission itself and equivalent agencies in other states.

There’d be plenty of Liberals, lefties and their running dogs in the media who are thrilled about what’s happened to Brian Burke. But they should think again.

If Burke is acquitted of these charges, the Barnett Government ought have a very good look at the Commission, the laws governing it, its personnel and its funding.

Premier Barnett will be a former Premier one day too. And no one deserves the kind of treatment Burke got.

The triumph of the powerful, vengeful, chip-on-shoulder bureaucrat or law enforcer headline hunter over the elected reflects no credit on our system. These people get their jollies from hunting politicians and the powerful, the taller the poppy the better.

Instead of the mostly healthy scepticism of the well-trained cop, these so-called corruption commissions replace balance with zeal, experience with ferocity and reject accountability measures of the kind imposed on Police.

Transparency International has consistently found that Australia has one of the least corrupt public sectors on the planet.

But there are other forms of corruption. Officially sanctioned corruption of a process that sees one man persecuted and selectively prosecuted with a legal jihad costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, leaving him to deal with the devastation that occurs regardless of the result in court. There’ll be no compensation for him, for his loss of business, for his legal expenses, for the pain and suffering. Nothing.

We accept that outside Labor moderate circles, Brian Burke is not the most popular figure. Everytime we write about him, we get criticised for our stand. And it’s precisely because of that fact that we should guard his rights and freedoms jealously. Our legal rights are designed to protect the victims of the mob, unpopular targets of the legal process. Any prominent person could be dragged into this vortex, particularly in those jurisdictions that have introduced bodies like the WA CCC. Politicians who presume it can only happen to Brian Burke are blind to history, even quite recent history.

And the only people helped by these evil institutions who pretend to fight corruption using means that are clearly corrupt themselves are the faceless men and women who populate these agencies with their cheap suits and thin lips who get to play God with the lives of those who’ve done great things or committed their lives to public service of a genuine kind. And these faceless bullies are never made responsible for their mistakes. Was Jeremy Rapke sacked or disciplined or in any way held to account as Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions after he brought a case against a senior Victorian minister that a magistrate condemned as bogus and made very clear ought never have been brought before a court? Of course not. Any consequence for the Victorian Ombudsman who has employed a bent cop whose own books detail his wrongdoing? Nope. What about the NSW ICAC when they effectively sacked a popular Libeal Premier on a false finding of corruption? The NSW Supreme Court was critical. But no one lost their job except Nick Greiner. These bodies are not accountable at all. They are the ugliest aspect of Australian public life, in our view.

All public office holders must be accountable to the public, through an open and transparent process. Victoria’s Ombudsman – given tremendous power – went horribly wrong for the simple reason that they are accountable to no-one. He is only accountable to the Victorian Parliament and he interprets that to mean the whole Parliament only, not one single MP or even a presiding officer can ask him anything about his conduct. When a Sunday Herald Sun journalist dared make inquiries about the Ombudsman was employing a dodgy ex-policeman, he was threatened.

These people are running amok simply because they are not sufficiently accountable.

No one should be above the law. But the legal process must treat everyone equally, regardless of fashion or popularity. It is clear the WA CCC has turned hunting Brian Burke into a way of justifying its dubious existence. Like other similar agencies, they have resisted all efforts at scrutinising their conduct.

And any society that allows obscenities like that to run unchecked is not worthy of the name.

Discussion

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  1. Yes, Vexnews, no one should be above the law. including Israel, perhaps?
    And while we’re on politically-motivated persecution of someone, where is it that you stand on Dr Haneef? Yes I’ve read your pieces on the subject; it was okay for him to be detained without charge, because Phillip Ruddock and Alex Downer said so, and the AFP were doing a great job protecting us from these evil terrorist.
    Lemme guess… if it’s an ALP government going after someone, it’s purely political, vicious victimisation to protect their own corruption.
    When it’s a coalition government, of course, it’s righteous and good, and there to protect you and me from terrorists/pedophiles whatever…
    Why don’t you get your OWN opinion for once, and move on from your boring Right Good, Left Baaaaaad drivel?

    Posted by juzzy | March 5, 2010, 17:10
  2. Damned if I saw any anti left in this article?……and I’m a leftie!
    I agree wholeheartedly with vexnews on this matter. Bob Smith and his cohorts are responsible for the corruption of laws designed to catch and punish the real corruption in owr midst. But they haven’t the guts for that.
    Contemptable people…..paid by me and people like me….what a system!!

    Posted by shaen | March 5, 2010, 19:46
  3. Why should it? He’s a filthy crook.
    Burke is one of the most vilest self interested crooks ever to have public office in Australia.

    Posted by anon | March 5, 2010, 22:52
  4. Brian Burke needs to crawl away and die. It’s THAT simple.

    Posted by tHE jOKER | March 5, 2010, 23:58
  5. Henry Bosch once said I want Blood in the days of the Victorian Insider Trading allegations.

    The only blood he got was one of his own staff.
    These type of persecutions have been going on for years, mainly to Labor people.

    If in the article WA was substituted by VIC the reader would see the same has been happening in Victoria for over 20 years.
    It is time these persecution bodies had to submit there fings to a real Leagal system.
    Gee perhaps the Premier should approve all prosecutions from tthese poorly performing quasi legal bodies

    Posted by candid | March 6, 2010, 5:28
  6. I blame Kevin Rudd.

    Posted by Anonymous | March 6, 2010, 9:56
  7. If Gautam Gupta stabs Brian Burke will it be considered a rascist attack?

    Posted by Goin' Rogue | March 6, 2010, 14:12
  8. If I was B.Burke I’d had left Australia years ago. A case of how the organs of government can destroy a life without the need for trial by peers ie jury.

    Posted by Anonymous | March 7, 2010, 17:11
  9. Burke is getting a good dose of Karma.
    Stop trying to paint him as some sort of martyr he is a crook nothing more nothing less!

    Posted by scarlet pimpernell | March 7, 2010, 17:54
  10. Brian Burke was one of Australia’s great Premiers. It is disgusting the way he has been treated, and by members of the ALP. Carpenter and Lawrence hang out your heads in shame. It is you who should be subject to a CCC investigation, but then again it would probably be nothing but a whitewash.

    Best wishes to Brian Burke. He is a great man and one of my heroes.

    Posted by Anonymous | March 7, 2010, 22:38
  11. Jeeze, call him saint brian why don’t you!

    Guy is a smart, cagey, cunning & has an idea he is way much smarter than the rest of us, true by some of these comments as well.

    His level of influence & mates in government/public service go very deep. They owe him favours which he calls on when needed & often, too his advantage.

    Posted by cynic | March 8, 2010, 10:40
  12. Not in my name.

    Leave the poor old man alone people.

    Posted by Ben | March 9, 2010, 10:27
  13. New Alex Hawke video depicting the Liberal back-bencher and former Woolworths shelf-stacker, Alex Hawke, the self titled ‘jedi-child’ in a fit of juvenile rage.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryqBdVikiaQ

    Posted by The Jedi-child | March 10, 2010, 2:59
  14. This has been a political hunt started by dickhead McGinty when he gave increased powers powers and funding to the CCC in exchange ffor what one might ask. Nothing comes free in politics. The ALP lefty mongrels lead by their high priest McCunty set their sights on Burke ever since he negotiated the deal to put Carpenter into power (and not McCunty) on the proviso that he (Carpenter) lifted the ban on Burke communicating with ALP ministers as a lobbyist. There is little doubt in my mind that investigators ‘beefed up’ the so called crime being committed to get the intercept warrants for Grill and Burke otherwise why are they trying to hide them. Burke’s lawyer Tom Percy wanted to summons a CCC executive to explain how the intercepts were obtained but “judge Michael Murray ruled in favour of the CCC, granting their application to cancel the summons” Surely if the investigators of the CCC had nothing to conceal then it shouldn’t be a problem. The CCC with the aid of their bum buddies the DPP have brought into disrepute the legal system of WA by abusing it for their own political ends and anyone with half a brain can see this.

    Posted by anonymous as well | April 15, 2010, 10:53
  15. What else is unfair is that it turns out that the intercepts between Burke and his lawyer obtained days before the hearing were given to Stephen Hall the CCC councillor prior to the hearing. Surely this aside of privilege is unacceptable by the legal practice standards committee. Obviously not as Hall was later made a Supreme Court judge. Now how’s that for coincidence for you?!

    Posted by anonymous as well | April 15, 2010, 11:09