News Corp throw paid informant Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen under a bus
A stick of dynamite was thrown under the Australian legal and political fraternity on Friday (12/2/16) which will be felt for years to come when transcript was leaked of a phone call which shows criminal conduct by Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen. As is common, the cover-up of the crime quite often becomes bigger than the original crime and that is the case here.
News Corp and a number of their journalists are up to their neck in the corruption paying Cunneen for stories and have been defending Margaret Cunneen and lambasting ICAC (Click here to read more). Then on Saturday the day after the leaks News Corp’s Hedley Thomas has attacked Margaret Cunneen with a major broadside in an article titled “Victims blame Margaret Cunneen for not acting against Volkers“. The story relates to when Margaret Cunneen gave corrupt advice to make sure alleged paedophile Scott Volkers was not charged. (Click here to read more)
The leak has forced News Corp to change tactics and they are clearly gearing up to throw their paid informant crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen under a bus to save their own skins.
While the scandal might centre on Cunneen and the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) the web of people dragged into the fight spreads far and wide which includes politicians, current judges, ex judges and the NSW and Victorian Solicitor General’s.
The reason it has become so explosive is because corrupt elements of the legal fraternity, which is most of them, have come out in force in an attempt to protect Margaret Cunneen who is one of their own. The problem for them now is that the evidence is finally becoming public which raises questions about the people who have been protecting Cunneen.
Last year Margaret Cunneen was to be investigated by ICAC for telling her son’s girlfriend to fake chest pains to avoid a breath test after a car accident in Cunneen’s car. Cunneen took legal action to stop ICAC investigating her for corruption. The High Court found in Cunneen’s favor and in effect ruled ICAC did not have jurisdiction.
The evidence was then handed to the DPP and eventually swept under the carpet by the NSW Solicitor-General Michael Sexton SC. (Click here to read more)
Cunneen has always denied the allegations and she made up many stories to defend herself which were shown to be lies when the transcript was leaked.
Phone tap transcript
The NSW parliament is conducting an inquiry into the Cunneen / ICAC investigation after criticism from The Inspector of the ICAC, David Levine. “The inquiry is being held after Mr Levine in December issued a scathing report on the agency’s conduct in its pursuit of Ms Cunneen. Mr Levine accused ICAC of “unreasonable, unjust, [and] oppressive maladministration”.
On Thursday ICAC tendered tapes and transcript of at least one telephone call of Margaret Cunneen.
Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen told a tow truck driver she had sent a message to her son’s girlfriend “to start having chest pains” after a car accident to delay a breath test as she had been drinking alcohol.
Explosive secret recordings also capture the prosecutor expressing the hope that the delay would mean an ambulance would be called and the woman, Sophia Tilley, would record a blood alcohol reading of zero once tested.
Ms Cunneen notes Ms Tilley is on her P-plates and therefore not allowed to have alcohol in her system. Ms Cunneen worried there might be complications with the insurance for the car, which was hers.
“My only reservation, just between you and me, is that, that naughty girl, had alcohol had, had oh no that’s all right I can cover that,” Ms Cunneen said, according to an excerpt from the recording transcript relayed to Fairfax Media.
“But she had drunk, she’s on her P plates. But it had been some time ago which is why I sent her the message to start having chest pains and get the ambulance because it’s bought her a few more hours. Just hoping it goes down to zero cause otherwise there might be complicated insurance issues.” (Click here to read more)
Ms Tilley was driving Ms Cunneen’s car at the time. Multiple parliamentary sources say Ms Cunneen mentioned she was worried that her insurance would be voided if Ms Tilley, who was on her P-Plates, was found to have alcohol in her system. (Click here to read more)
Based on the transcript it looks like Margaret Cunneen was trying to pervert the course of justice and also trying to commit insurance fraud as it was her car in the accident.
It would be easy to check with the insurance company to see if Margaret Cunneen was paid in full for damage to her car and did Cunneen declare to the insurance company that the driver Sophia Tilley had been drinking alcohol the day of the accident. I think it would be fairly standard for an insurance company to ask that question.
Parliament still to decide if transcript and tape to be released to the public
The inquiry which is headed up by MP Damien Tudehope adjourned the hearing until next Friday to decide if the the transcript and tapes should be released to the public. Afterwards part of the transcript was leaked.
If history is anything to go by they won’t be released because Mr Tudehope previously denied the release of documents. It was reported in 2012:
The NSW Attorney-General, Greg Smith, is under fire for letting a senior staff member with links to Father Finian Egan block the release of government documents relating to the alleged paedophile priest.
Damien Tudehope, Mr Smith’s chief of staff, refused access to the documents despite once having worked as Father Egan’s solicitor. The priest was arrested in May and charged with multiple sex offences against boys and girls stretching back decades.
Mr Tudehope’s brother Anthony Tudehope, a barrister, attended the police station with the Catholic priest when he was charged. (Click here to read more)
If you look at Damien Tudehope’s background he should not have been appointed to oversee ICAC in the first place.
Threats to the media – Panic mode – did not follow through – They are criminals trying to close down the media
On Friday, Ms Cunneen would not answer media questions from Fairfax Media.
But in a letter, her lawyers said Fairfax Media should “immediately withdraw” an online report on the matter and that they were seeking instructions about pursuing a court order if this was not done.
The Inspector of the ICAC, David Levine, also wrote to the chairman of the inquiry, Liberal MP Damien Tudehope, asking him to investigate if the material was leaked by MPs. (Click here to read more)
As of today Cunneen’s lawyers haven’t followed through with the threat and won’t. It was a stupid move and shows how desperate Cunneen is.
ICAC and Commissioner Megan Latham are not clean skins but on this matter they have gotten it right.
Others such as David Levine, the DPP, NSW and Victorian Solicitor General’s, numerous News Corp journalists and others such as Alan Jones have a lot to answer for as to why they have tried to protect Margaret Cunneen. They are all on the back foot now and the truth is slowly but surely being revealed.
This is going to be a massive corruption story and the tentacles will reach far and wide and destroy many careers and reputations, and so it should. I’ll keep following this matter and post on it again soon.
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Categories: Independent Commission Against Corruption - ICAC