Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates
THE HEINER AFFAIR - A BRIEFING AT THE END OF 2012 AND A LOOK INTO 2013
Kevin Lindeberg, Whistleblower
It was a very dramatic day at the Carmody Inquiry on Thursday, 13 December 2012. It followed a dramatic "crossing-the-Rubicon" day of evidence on 12 December 2012.
Thursday was to establish that another witness at the Heiner Inquiry (Youth Worker Michael Roch - an English gentleman and commercial pilot-cum-youth worker with an evident strong sense of probity and decency [as might be seen by the transcipt of evidence]) was asked about the Harding Incident.
To see how it played out, the transcript should be read. It was the stuff of Hollywood, but,this is the real world with enormously serious consequences. http://www.childprotectioninquiry.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/170714/2012-12-13-QCPCI-Day-11-Brisbane-3e.pdf
Sadly, Mr Roch had suffered a stroke in 2007. He looked and spoke well. He freely admitted though that it had harmed his memory recall in 2012, and if he couldn't recall now, he would not say otherwise.
I was aware of his stroke because, having standing before the Inquiry, I was/am entitled to see witness Statements before the Hearing so that appropriate questions can be put when witnesses appear.
I was bound by strict confidentiality until the Statement was accepted into evidence which it now is.
Matters were prepared properly for Thursday with my counsel, leading criminal justice lawyer, Michael Bosscher. http://www.childprotectioninquiry.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/170737/QCPCI_Exhibit_236_Statement_of_Michael_Roch.PDF
After counsel assisting had finished his long cross-examination of Mr Roch, Mr Bosscher stood up. It was his turn on my behalf. Under cross-examination by Mr Bosscher, Mr Roch affirmed that his recall was sound back into 2001 and that he recalled being interviewed by Bruce Grundy.
Mr Bosscher then produced a tape recording of his Grundy interview in November 2001 wherein he states emphatically that Mr Heiner asked him about the Harding Incident.
The relevant interview was played out over the speakers from Mr Bosscher's "old banger" of a tape recorder. Mr Grundy sat in the public gallery. Mr Roch clearly confirmed that it was his voice on the tape.
The Grundy/Roch tape recording was admitted into evidence.
So what does all this combine to mean?
On the Wednesday, a female former Youth Worker, Irene Parfitt, confirmed her Statement under oath before the Inquiry. It is now publicly available. She had informed Mr Heiner about the Harding Incident when interviewed at the Children's Court in North Quay Brisbane. She believed that was the purpose of the Inquiry. She was calm, resolute and highly credible in the witness box. In effect, she was the whistleblower at the Heiner Inquiry over the incident that everyone knew about at the centre but which others, for whatever reason, failed to tell Mr Heiner. She broke the silence. She turned the tide. http://www.childprotectioninquiry.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/170664/QCPCI_Exhibit_42_Statement_of_Irene_Parfitt_REDACTED.pdf
So, via the testimony of two JOYC staff under oath, we now know that at least two witnesses told Mr Heiner (an agent of the Crown) or spoke about the Harding Incident. The evidence was tape recorded. He was lawfully entitled to receive her evidence. These witnesses believed, rightly or wrongly, that the rape incident hadn't been handled improperly at the time, and required a review. They disclosed a potential serious crime of child sexual abuse to the Heiner Inquiry (subsequently described by the Queensland Crime Commission in December 2001 as prima facie "criminal paedophilia" under the relevant Act) having having occurred at the JOYC on 24 May 1988.
Term of Reference 3(e) says: "...reviewing the adequacy and appropriateness of any response of, and action taken by, government to allegations, including any allegations of criminal conduct associated with government responses, into historic child sexual abuse in youth detention centres. " http://www.childprotectioninquiry.qld.gov.au/about/terms-of-reference
It is our considered view that the threshold of "historic child sexual abuse in a youth detention" has been met beyond a reasonable doubt.
What was the Government's response at the time?
- No review of the Harding Incident took place in 1990;
- It removed the manager when the ALP came to office. Why? Because it later stated that it (i.e. the ALP Government) had known of the problems at the Centre for a long time. (See Point 27 Statement http://www.childprotectioninquiry.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/170353/QCPCI_Exhibit_17_Statement_of_Frederick_Feige_REDACTED.pdf
- The Inquiry was terminated when there were no legal impediments to its continuation because it had been set up lawfully and if any defamation were to commence the witnesses and Mr Heiner were covered by qualified privilege and any such action was likely to fail;
- Indemnified Mr Heiner and witnesses in February 1990 against costs in respect of future legal action flowing out of the inquiry's work;
- The gathered evidence went through the shredder secretly on 23 March 1990 when known to be required as evidence in foreshadowed/anticipated and/or foreseeable future judicial proceedings; and
- An ex gratia/special payment was made to Mr Coyne in February 1991 conditional (as set out in a Deed of Settlement), on both the Queensland Government and Mr Coyne agreeing to never disclose "...the events leading up and surrounding his relocation from the Centre (in February 1990)."
These legal claims on the Heiner Inquiry documents were by the manager, deputy manager (via lawyers) and a Centre school teacher when they were shredded and after a notice of foreshadowed judicial proceedings had been served on the Government.
Now to 2013.
To reiterate, we know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Heiner Inquiry documents had at least two other legal requirements on them demanding their retention. That is, as evidence for foreshadowed court proceedings involving public servants, and their other content matter, the illegal handcuffing of children for an excessive period (i.e. evidence of a potential crime).
There is now a third: those parts of the evidence which concerned the Harding Incident.
Other evidence has emerged in the Statements (i.e. taken into evidence and now available on the Inquiry's webpage) which ought to dovetail later on in respect of the contents of the Rofe QC Audit.
The Carmody Inquiry resumes on 21 January 2013.
Probably the remaining JOYC staff will and should be called. Some have important evidence to present or to be cross-examined about. They cannot undermine our having reached the requisite threshold as stipulated in Term of Reference 3(e).
Then, we move onto the shredding and its alleged illegality, and related matters.
That's the beginning of the Rofe QC Audit which sets out the alleged systemic cover-up.
Commissioner Carmody SC informed the Inquiry that he was required "...to make full and careful inquiry in an open and independent manner." He said that these things (i.e. commissions of inquiry) were Darwinian in character. That is, they can evolve and go in any and all directions.
May I suggest that the Audit (which the Carmody Inquiry holds) offers a compass to those alluded to 'Darwinian directions' and what may be in prospect for many in 2013.
Let us hope and pray that justice will not just be done, but be seen to be done for all in 2013 after a journey of some 23 years.