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Leanne Clare: Wikis


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Leanne Clare is the former Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions. On the 2nd April, 2008 she was appointed Judge of the District Court of Queensland. As Director of Public Prosecutions four of her decisions have been controversial.[1]

These decisions related to the following people:

  • Pauline Hanson, who was prosecuted for electoral fraud as a result of a meeting between Clare, Mike Byrne QC and the Acting Senior Legal Officer but had her conviction quashed on appeal,
  • Scott Volkers, who was not prosecuted for rape allegations due to the opinion of Clare and Nicholas Cowdery QC of the NSW DPP that rape allegations including evidence that the victim orgasmed should not proceed,
  • Diane Fingleton, who was prosecuted for intimidation of a witness and had the conviction quashed on the second appeal pursuant to Magistrates' immunity from criminal prosecution,
  • Chris Hurley, whom she decided should not be prosecuted in spite of a Coroner's finding that Hurley had caused the death of an Aboriginal man named Mulrunji Doomadgee. Hurley was later prosecuted after an independent review and acquitted by a jury.

In all these cases her decisions were either immediately controversial or became controversial in conjunction with a new controversy.


Controversial decisions


Pauline Hanson

One controversial decision was when Clare decided that the Department of Public Prosecutions would prosecute Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge for electoral fraud.

Pauline Hanson was a federal politician in Australia. In October 1997 she registered One Nation as a political party, an act requiring 500 members. Registration carried financial benefits for the cost of electoral campaigns. [2] A former One Nation candidate Mr Terry Sharples took action in the Supreme Court in Queensland in 1998 calling for the party to be deregistered, on the grounds there were not in fact 500 members in Queensland. He succeeded in his court action. [2]

As a result police investigated whether or not fraud was involved. Detective Inspector K Weber believed no further investigation was warranted but recommended that relevant correspondence be sent to Acting Senior Legal Officer S. Loder for review and advice. [2]

The Commissioner of Police directed that the matter be referred to the DPP to seek her opinion due to the public interest. In a meeting between the DPP, her deputy (Mr Mike Byrne QC), and Ms Loder on the 28 June, 2001 Ms Loder presented an "executive summary" and this was discussed. Her summary advised that documentary evidence established that the people on the list were members of a support movement not members of the party. [2]

The minutes of the meeting indicate that the DPP decided to prosecute Ms Hanson on the basis of fraud at that meeting. The prosecution commenced on the 5 July, 2001. In August, 2003 Ms Hanson was convicted by a District Court of Queensland jury of fraud and sentenced to three years imprisonment. She appealed to the Queensland Court of Appeal and the conviction was overturned two and a half months later. [2]

According to the CMC report, as a result many people at least believed that Ms Hanson had been treated unfairly and there were suggestions that she may have been the victim of political interference. The Crime and Misconduct Commission investigated whether or not there was political interference and found no evidence in support of the allegations of political interference. [2]

Scott Volkers

Clare also made the decision to not press charges against Scott Volkers, an Australian swimming coach, in spite of allegations by young female swimmers that he had sexually abused them. This was criticized by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) and then reaffirmed after seeking advice from Nicholas Cowdery QC of the NSW DPP. The reasoning for not proceeding was apparently a belief that rape victims don't orgasm.[3]

Julie Gilbert who had complained about Volkers later launched a private criminal prosecution of Volkers in the Queensland Supreme Court before Justice Cate Holmes. Her barrister, Russell Hanson QC, provided the judge with two police statements containing her allegations, and the CMC report critical of the DPP decision.[4] However the court dismissed the application.[5]

Diane Fingleton

Clare was also involved in the DPP's decision to charge Di Fingleton with the offence of intimidation of a witness [1]. Fingleton was convicted by a jury, and served jail. She appealed her conviction with the Queensland Court of Appeal but the conviction was upheld.[6]

Her conviction was later quashed in a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia who held that her conduct was protected by immunity from criminal prosecution by Queensland legislation.[7] Although immunity from prosecution was not raised by her Barrister at trial and the Queensland Court of Appeal upheld the conviction (see above) Leanne Clare's failure to realize that Fingleton was immune from Criminal prosecution in the circumstances has been described in the media as controversial and a "debacle" when she decided not to prosecute Chris Hurley.[8]

Chris Hurley

Most recently, Clare attracted controversy over her decision not to have Police Senior Sgt Chris Hurley prosecuted over his involvement in the 2004 death of an Aboriginal man Mulrunji[9], as she believed there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal charge.

The DPP decision not to charge was made in spite of a formal finding by the Deputy Chief Coroner Christine Clements that an assault by Hurley caused the death and her referring the matter to the DPP to consider charging.

The incident was also investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) who are responsible for investigating allegations of police misconduct.[10] The CMC also concluded that there was insufficient evidence albeit in the context of disciplinary proceedings rather than criminal trial. They determined "that the evidence would not be capable of proving before any disciplinary tribunal that Senior Sergeant Hurley was responsible for Mulrunji’s death."[11]

Mulrunji died as a result of a fatal injury to his liver. According to the report of Coroner Clements, two witnesses gave direct evidence that implicated Hurley in the death. These were Roy Bramwell and Patrick Bramwell. [12]

Roy Bramwell was being questioned after three indigenous women claimed he had assaulted them all. One needed to be airlifted to the Townsville Hospital as a result of the alleged assault.[12] He was later found guilty of charges including assault occasioning grievous bodily harm, common assault and wilful damage and is serving a 3 year jail sentence.[13]. He alleged that while he was awaiting questioning Hurley punched Mulrunji three times in the head and then kicked him. The kicking was ruled out by medical evidence.[12]

Patrick Bramwell initially said that he saw nothing.[14] He later gave evidence that he was in a separate cell to Mulrunji and unable to help but witnessed Hurley take Mulrunji out of the cell and assault him. The Coroner did not accept this as credible as he was on video asleep next to Mulrunji in the same cell. [12]

Clements put forward two competing theories for the death. One was an accident while Mulrunji was struggling to escape from Hurley's custody after punching Hurley in the jaw upon arrival at the watch house. The other was death as a result of an assault immediately after the pair fell struggling into the watchhouse from the entrance step. The second theory was based on allegations of Roy Bramwell. For 6 or 7 seconds Hurley was in the presence of Mulrunji with no-one other than Roy Bramwell witnessing.[15]. Clements accepted the second theory. [12] However the Queensland District Court later considered that her finding needed to be struck out.[16] Mulrunji's family appealed the decision and the Supreme Court's Court of Appeal held that the evidence didn't support the Coroner's conclusions and ordered that the inquest be reopened. [17 ]

The DPP decision which effectively disagreed with the Coroner's conclusions was heavily criticised in the media [2] and triggered a political backlash.

This backlash resulted in the Beattie government taking the controversial action of commissioning a review of Clare's decision [18][19] The review was conducted by Sir Laurence Street, and it found that, based on circumstantial evidence, Hurley should stand trial for Mulrunji's death [20].

Hurley was charged with manslaughter, and stood trial. He was found not guilty by a jury in the Supreme Court of Queensland in Townsville [3].

At the ceremony swearing Leanne Clare in as Judge the Chief Judge apparently expressed an opinion on the above controversial decisions stating that Clare had filled her previous role as DPP in a "wise and fearless" manner. She further expressed confidence in Clare's appointment to the bench.[21]


  1. ^ Di Fingleton; The Siege of Glenrowan.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Commission, Crime and Misconduct (January 2004). "The Prosecution of Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge". The Crime and Misconduct Commission.  
  3. ^ New controversy surrounds Volkers case, The 7.30 Report, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 01 June 2004.
  4. ^ Judge Reserves Decision in Volkers case, ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 04 November 2004
  5. ^ Supreme Court dismisses Volkers case, The World Today, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 16 December 2004.
  6. ^ Fingleton Loses Appeal but not Job, The Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Corporation, 27 June 2003.
  7. ^ Diane McGrath Fingleton v Queen, Public Information Officer, The High Court, 23 June 2005.
  8. ^ Beattie stands firm amid hostile Palm Island Reception, 7.30 Report, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 20 December 2006.
  9. ^ Anger at custody death ruling - National -
  10. ^ = Crime and Misconduct Commission "Our Jurisdiction". 02 December 2006. = Crime and Misconduct Commission. Retrieved 2007-03-20.  
  11. ^ Crime and Misconduct Commission "CMC statement regarding Palm Island death in custody". 14 December 2006. Crime and Misconduct Commission. Retrieved 2008-05-13.  
  12. ^ a b c d e Justice Department "Coroner's Report". 27 September 2006. Justice Department. Retrieved 2007-03-20.  
  13. ^ Courier Mail "Mourning Mulrunji". 30 September 2006.,23739,20500322-3102,00.html= Courier Mail. Retrieved 2007-10-09.  
  14. ^ Victim cried for help as policeman beat him says witness, The Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Corporation, 28 February 2005.
  15. ^ ABC "No hint of Mulrunji's injury, Palm Is trial told". 14 June 2007. ABC. Retrieved 2007-09-04.  
  16. ^ Domadgee probe may get new head, The Australian, 22 December 2008.
  17. ^ The Age "Christine Flatley (sic) Court orders new Palm Island inquest", 16 June 2009. Accessed 17 June 2009
  18. ^ Emma Chalmers & Roseanne Barrett Courier Mail "Palm Island review blasted". 29 December 2006.,23739,20982826-3102,00.html= Emma Chalmers & Roseanne Barrett Courier Mail. Retrieved 2007-03-20.  
  19. ^ Qld Opposition defends union’s Hurley Ads, Nicky Haydon, ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 23 June 2007.
  20. ^,23739,21934251-952,00.html
  21. ^ Leanne Clare sworn in as Judge, Mark Oberhardt, Courier Mail, Queensland Newspapers, 3 April 2008


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