Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates


 'I'm not protecting anyone', says Heiner figure

February 12, 2013 - 12:01AM

Tony senior reporter

A senior public servant has denied he was covering for anyone as a Queensland inquiry probes reasons why evidence from a government inquiry 23 years ago was shredded, despite solicitors wanting access to them.
Kenneth Littleboy on Monday conceded that when he drafted a letter to the Queensland State Archives in February 1990 requesting approval for destruction of the Heiner documents, he did not inform them solicitors wanted to review evidence gathered during an inquiry.
That short-lived inquiry - into management issues at the John Oxley Youth Centre - was run by retired magistrate Noel Heiner in 1989.
The solicitors were acting for the then manager of the centre, Peter Coyne.
Mr Littleboy said information about solicitors wanting to view the evidence in the letter he wrote to the State Archivist would have most likely have been removed "on advice" from a senior officer.
"I am not protecting anyone," Mr Littleboy told the Carmody Inquiry on Monday afternoon.
"I have no recollection of it."
He insisted the controversy surrounding a front-page story  in The Sun newspaper on April 11, 1990 - a month after documents were destroyed - did not improve his memory.
"That would have caused you to remember what you did and why you did it?" Counsel Assisting the Inquiry, Michael Copely asked.
"No recollection," Mr Littleboy said.
"Why do you say that?" Mr Copely pressed. "Who are you protecting?"
Mr Littleboy said he was not protecting a senior officer.
"I am not protecting anyone. I have no recollection of it."
Queensland's State Archivist Lesley McGregor later gave written approval for the documents to be destroyed on February 23, 1990.
The documents were shredded on March 23, 1990, after Cabinet subsequently gave approval on March 5, 1990.
The government at the time said the evidence contained potential defamation problems.
For several hours on Monday the retired public servant was questioned on why information on the solicitors’ requests was not made clear to the archivists.
"If it was not in there, either I was incompetent, or I was asked not to put it in there," Mr Littleboy said Monday afternoon.
He was also asked why he - as a senior public servant - accompanied the acting chief archivist to a Families Department office where the documents were destroyed.
Mr Littleboy said he believed because he would have been asked to do that by the secretary of Cabinet, Stuart Tait.
"Well again because of the documentation. Stuart (Tait) said make sure the documents were destroyed," he said.
The Families Department were the "owners" of the documents, even though they had been sent to the Premier's Department in a sealed box.
Mr Littleboy said in hindsight the destruction of the Heiner documents was inappropriate.
"I believe the destruction of the documents was inappropriate. I didn't at the time," he said.
"I don't think I did anything wrong, I didn't think it was controversial and I wasn't trying to hide anything.
"What I did, I did."
However he agreed he was responsible for drafting the request for documents to be destroyed despite solicitors pressing to access them.
"But it was controversial because they were destroyed in the face of a solicitors' request for them, wasn't it," Mr Copely said.
"Yes," Mr Littleboy said.
"But because something is controversial, doesn't mean it is correct or that the issue has founding."
However Mr Copely said the controversy should have meant that Mr Littleboy "retained a much better recollection of these events than you are making out."
"I assure you I don't," Mr Littleboy said.
Earlier yesterday Mr Littleboy was questioned about the hierarchy in the Cabinet secretariat in 1990.
Mr Littleboy said former prime minister Kevin Rudd, then new premier Wayne Goss' chief of staff, had nothing to do with the Cabinet Secretariat in 1990.
"So he had nothing to do with the Cabinet secretariat in January, February, March 1990?" Mr Copley asked.
"No, he was one of Goss' people, one of the premier's people. He wasn't a public servant."
He said he understood Mr Rudd became more influential later on.
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