Saturday, 30 August 2008

Haneef to seek compensation

Greens...AFP needs to properly explain the reasons why it pursued the case against Dr Haneef.

MORE than a year after a terrorism charge against him was dropped and more than $8 million later, the Australian Federal Police have finally confirmed they have cleared the Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef as a suspect.

In a short statement released to the media yesterday afternoon, the AFP confirmed it had informed Dr Haneef's solicitor, Rod Hodgson, the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and the Home Affairs Minister, Bob Debus, that Dr Haneef was "no longer a person of interest".

Lawyer Rod Hodgson says Dr Haneef will be seeking compensation after the federal inquiry headed by John Clarke QC into the case is over.

"I have spoken to Dr Haneef and he is obviously concerned that his reputation has been impugned over the last 13 months by the AFP continuing to refer to him as a suspect," he said.

"And we have made no secret of the fact that he will be seeking compensation for the immense damage to his career, his family and his reputation."

Dr Haneef was held for 11 days without charge under Australian terrorism laws before being charged on July 14 with "intentionally providing support to a terrorist organisation".

Dr Haneef was granted bail by a Brisbane magistrate on July 16 but just hours later the then immigration minister, Kevin Andrews, cancelled his 457 work visa, ensuring he remained in detention. Dr Haneef returned to India.

In December the full bench of the Federal Court ruled that Dr Haneef was free to return to Australia after it rejected Mr Andrews' appeal against a decision to reinstate his visa.

The court found the law did not allow the Government to revoke a visa on character grounds simply because a person had an "association" with an unsavoury individual.

During a Senate estimates hearing in February the AFP commissioner, Mick Keelty, revealed that more that 600 security officials had worked on the Haneef case and the related British bombings investigation, which cost more than $7.5 million. By May the figure had risen to $8.2 million. The return for the effort was the one charge against Dr Haneef, which was subsequently dropped.

An inquiry into the AFP's handling of the investigation is underway and due to report to the Government on September 30. Mr Keelty has so far refused to make public unclassified sections of the AFP's submission to the inquiry, arguing that he did not have the permission of British police to do so.

This is despite the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation releasing in full its submission saying it had no evidence linking Dr Haneef to a British terrorist plot.

Greens leader Bob Brown says the AFP needs to properly explain the reasons why it pursued the case against Dr Haneef.

He says the judicial inquiry into the matter needs to have wider scope.

"The inquiry needs to go right up the line to the Prime Minister Howard himself to establish how on the basis of no real evidence which would support a prosecution such a hash could be made," he said.

"The explanation needs to say how this could have become such a damaging episode not just for Dr Haneef but for this nation."


Haneef advice ignored by Andrews: lawyers
Lawyers for former Gold Coast-based Dr Mohamed Haneef say they have obtained new documents showing former immigration minister Kevin Andrews ignored advice from his own department.

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