Family to seek legal review of Palm case

LAWYERS for the family of Mulrunji Doomadgee, who died in custody on Palm Island, will pursue a judicial review of the Queensland Director of Public Prosecution's decision not to press charges against a policeman, regardless of the outcome of the Beattie Government's independent review of the case.
The move has the potential to make meaningless Peter Beattie's decision to seek an independent review of DPP Leanne Clare's decision, and comes amid debate about who would conduct the re-examination and how long it would take.

Doomadgee lawyer Frederic Cassis told The Australian yesterday an application for a judicial review of Ms Clare's December 14 decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over Doomadgee's death would be filed in the Queensland Supreme Court within a month.

"We will file the judicial review and put it on hold until the external review has been determined," Mr Cassis said.

"A civil action would also be something the family would want to do if the avenues in the criminal area proved fruitless."

It remains unclear whether any civil action would specifically seek damages from Sergeant Hurley, who owns a near-million-dollar property portfolio.

Sergeant Hurley, who will return to a non-operational specialist policing role in the new year, is the owner of properties on the Gold Coast worth almost $1 million.

Records supplied by RP Data show Sergeant Hurley purchased two units in a complex at Burleigh Heads in 2004, and is co-owner of a modern house at Carrara purchased at the start of this year.

Doomadgee's family called on the Premier yesterday to appoint Sydney-based former Queensland corruption royal commissioner Tony Fitzgerald QC or another interstate legal figure to review the decision.

The search for a candidate continues following the decision this week of retired judge Pat Shanahan to quit the review panel that was formed last week.

Mr Shanahan, a former District Court chief judge, stepped aside on Wednesday a day after The Australian revealed that he had been on the panel that selected Ms Clare in 1999.

A spokesman for state Attorney-General Kerry Shine said the Crown Solicitor had not yet found a suitable applicant to carry out the review.

While Mr Beattie rejected suggestions the person had to be a non-Queenslander, and talked about the suitability of Mr Fitzgerald, the former Federal Court judge has not been approached.

"I haven't been asked and I don't expect to be asked," Mr Fitzgerald said.

"The question won't arise, that is absolutely certain - I won't be approached."

Elizabeth Doomadgee, Mulrunji's sister, yesterday welcomed the withdrawal of Mr Shanahan, whom the family accused of having a potential conflict of interest.

She said Mr Fitzgerald or someone from interstate should be appointed to undertake the review of the case.

"We are eagerly awaiting to see who will take his place," Ms Doomadgee said.

"We are hoping the Government will support someone from outside Queensland, because we think the justice system in Queensland has failed us ... we hope they will appoint someone like Tony Fitzgerald QC."

Mr Fitzgerald headed the far-reaching 1987-88 commission of inquiry into police corruption in Queensland that brought down the Bjelke-Petersen government, and conducted the Cape York justice study which led to the introduction of grog bans in the state's Aboriginal communities.