Judge 'not pressured' to quit Mulrunji review
December 27, 2006
The Queensland government says it didn't pressure a retired
judge to withdraw from a review into the decision not to charge a
police officer over the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee.
Attorney-General Kerry Shine today announced retired chief judge of
the District Court, Pat Shanahan, had decided not to proceed with
the review of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Leanne Clare's
decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over Mulrunji's
death in custody at Palm Island in November 2004.
Mr Shanahan came under mounting pressure to abandon the review
after it was revealed he was on a selection panel that appointed Ms
Clare as DPP in 1999.
Ms Clare had insisted she would not seek an external review of her
decision because "the evidence does not support a prosecution'' -
despite state deputy coroner Christine Clements' ruling in
September last year that Senior Sergeant Hurley caused Mulrunji's
"I have to announce that I received a phone call from former chief
judge Pat Shanahan this morning and he has advised me as follows:
'I have decided, after an examination of all factors, to inform you
that I will not be proceeding with the review','' Mr Shine told
reporters in Brisbane.
Mr Shine said Mr Shanahan was "definitely not'' pressured by the
government to quit.
"What I told him was I had confidence in him ... if he wanted to
stay on, it would have been with our support,'' he said.
"His decision to pull out was his entirely.''
Mr Shine said while the government didn't accept there was a
conflict of interest, the appointment could have been handled
differently in hindsight.
"In the light of subsequent comment over the ... last couple of
days, from a political point of view you'd probably do it
differently but certainly from a legal point of view ... I had full
confidence in the judge and I still do,'' Mr Shine said.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie described Mr Shanahan as one of
the most well-regarded judges in Queensland but also said his
decision was "in a sense the best outcome for everybody''.
''(Mr Shanahan) wants the judgment to be received by everybody ...
from the government's point of view it's better that we have a
person who is appointed by the crown solicitor without any of that
controversy,'' Mr Beattie said.
"I think (his decision) gives some indication of his integrity...
we were very comfortable about him being the appropriate
Mr Shine said he had directed Crown Prosecutor Conrad Lohe to find
a replacement for Mr Shanahan as quickly as possible to ensure the
review's results could be presented to parliament in February.
Mr Shanahan was the chief judge of the Brisbane District Court for
five years and a District Court judge for 26 years.