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Cahill investigation gets serious

By johnboy - 17 November 2009 34

The Canberra Times brings word that police have gone so far as to seize the notes and recorder of the CT’s Noel Towell as they investigate whether Chief Magistrate Ron Cahill “attempted to pervert the course of justice”.

“Two police officers attended the newspaper’s Fyshwick office yesterday afternoon, and seized items belonging to journalist Noel Towell which they believe could be evidence in relation to the investigation.
Detective Superintendent Chris Sheehan and Sergeant Allison Williams left with Towell’s digital recorder and notebook.
Towell, who is the newspaper’s legal affairs reporter, had recorded and transcribed an interview about the matter with Mr Cahill last week.”

This is a story with the potential to really shake the smug coterie who think they run this town.
Hopefully the public is eventually allowed to know what’s going on.

[initially posted 14 Nov 2009, 13:02]

UPDATE 17 Nov 2009
Ron Cahill has resigned citing heath issues and escaped further investigation, more details in the ABC report Cahill resigns, commission abandoned.

What’s Your opinion?

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34 Responses to
Cahill investigation gets serious
Mike Crowther 5:09 pm 16 Nov 09

I disagree abc. I think the sideline is the suppressed case. (Which if done to protect a vulnerable victim I heartily endorse). The real issue is whether a soon-to-retire judicial officer was planning to dump a bucket on the Governments handling of justice in the territory. Is this a trumped-up pre-emptive strike on the man’s character? The man is still restrained from public speech by his holding office. I’m damn sure it wasn’t him who tipped off the media that his office was to be ‘raided’. Regardless of the findings of the Judicial inquiry, and any post retirement observations made by Ron Cahill will be countered by the government as the sour-grapes ranting of a bloke who ended his career under ‘some sort of a cloud’. (Supported by the general public’s poor memory and dislike for detail)
The fix is well and truly in on this one.

abc 8:14 am 16 Nov 09

Footloose said :

Does any of this have anything to do with the following whole bunch of crazy? >

No it doesn’t… maybe in the long battle between Corbell and the judiciary as a sideline… but directly …… no.. post number 9 above details the matter very well… just minus the name.

miz 10:41 pm 15 Nov 09

There’s only one degree of separation in Canberra – don’t they know this by now? I’ve heard about this from a friend of a friend as I am sure loads of people have.

Seems this is rather bordering on the ridiculous that is has come so far.

Footloose 9:43 pm 15 Nov 09

Does any of this have anything to do with the following whole bunch of crazy? >

banco 9:40 pm 15 Nov 09

Don’t worry your pretty little heads. The little people don’t need to know why the chief magistrate is under investigation. Nor do they need to know who the identity of the “prominent Canberran” who is now a defendant.

housebound 9:25 pm 15 Nov 09

Hmmm, what to believe – the editorial independence of the CT or a ruling-class coverup?

moneypenny2612 9:00 pm 15 Nov 09

Suppression orders seem to be increasingly anachronstic things in the digital age. For example, you had the Victorian suppression orders that stopped the first series of Underbelly being broadcast there because one of the minor players in the Gangland Wars was being tried at that time. Fat lot of good that suppression order did in keeping the accused person’s identity secret, because Victorians happily BitTorrented the TV show anyway. More recently, there was the Trafigura incident in the UK, where Twitter and the Internet unravelled a “super” suppression order that tried to stop The Guardian reporting particular parliamentary questions. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this surprisingly informative column from The Punch is a good starting point).

Anyway – on the topic in hand – in September this year journalist Noel Towell, on behalf of the Canberra Times, applied for the narrowing of a suppression order (made previously by Chief Magistrate Cahill) in a case involving an alleged physical assault against a teenage girl by her adoptive father. The decision on the Times’s application is on the public record, here.

The teenage girl is described by the presiding magistrate as “emotionally vulnerable and somewhat fragile”. The evidence described in the magistrate’s decision is, I think, compelling about that. The Canberra Times wanted to be able to identify “the fact that the father had been charged and consider the effect this has had upon the organisation where he works”. The magistrate refused to amend the suppression order because he was gravely concerned about the girl’s welfare should her father’s identity and in turn her own be publicly revealed.

Now, Canberra may be a big enough small town to have several separate court cases on the simmer concerning the Chief Magistrate, a so-called prominent public figure and a vulnerable child. But, the involvement of The Canberra Times seems a rather close coincidence to me – what with recent police inquiries at the newspaper’s offices.

I have not read Jack Waterford’s column. But how do his facts compare?

In another coincidence, the magistrate who made the decision on The Canberra Times’s application seems to be one of the complainants against what Chief Magistrate Cahill emailed to the visiting Victorian magistrate.

TAD 7:58 pm 15 Nov 09

It’s all BS

Tattler40 7:34 pm 15 Nov 09

I suspect JB that you also know less than half the full story.

Very rare that I would agree with Waterford but on this occasion he has written a very balanced piece presenting the facts that can be reported in a very reasonable way. Suppression Orders are relatively infrequently issued and always after careful consideration of all the relevant issues by the judicial officer making the order. Just because the media and the gossips amongst us want someone named does not mean they should be.

banco 7:27 pm 15 Nov 09

Well if the judicial commission doesn’t publish all the relevant names and details then it will be an establishment white wash.

Deadmandrinking 6:21 pm 15 Nov 09

Having met Mr Cahill and finding him to be an excellent bloke, the secrecy surrounding this frustrates me to no end.

johnboy 6:06 pm 15 Nov 09

NickD, you don’t know the half of it. And I’m sorry I can’t tell you it. But that’s not my call.

NickD 9:09 am 15 Nov 09

Waterford’s column did a great job of explaining what was going on and why the suppression orders are in place – in short, it’s because the trial in question concerns the abuse of a young person who’s considered to be at serious risk of self-harm, and there’s a high likelihood that if any details were reported the child could easily be identified and he/she would harm themselves. I was concerned about the level of suppression before I read the article and fully supported it by the time I finished it.

banco 8:58 pm 14 Nov 09

The number of suppression orders issued by courts is really out of control. You can bet everyone at the Canberra Times and half of Canberra’s legal community knows what’s going on but they can’t actually publish it.

cranky 5:17 pm 14 Nov 09

Waterford’s ‘Addendum’ column in todays CT is probably as close as the public will get to being told the story.

Apparently less to do with the ‘well known person’ as the fact a ‘young person’ is involved as well.

But apparently a very well and widely known person. Still dificult to see what form of ‘suspect action’ could be displayed by Cahill’s correspondence.

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