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Judicial inquiry docs must be released

Judicial inquiry docs must be released

The ACT government is under renewed pressure to release documents that prompted it to initiate a judicial inquiry into the former ACT chief magistrate.In November 2009, then Chief Magistrate Ron…

The ACT government is under renewed pressure to release documents that prompted it to initiate a judicial inquiry into the former ACT chief magistrate.

In November 2009, then Chief Magistrate Ron Cahill stood down from his position after the ACT government announced it would commission a judicial inquiry into allegations from fellow magistrates, including his successor, John Burns, that he provided material to the Victorian magistrate Peter Lauristen that could impact an assault case he was hearing.

Cahill announced his retirement soon afterwards, citing ill health, with the judicial inquiry subsequently scrapped and a separate police investigation folding in early September.

This has prompted the ACT Opposition to call for the release of any material related to the decision to initiate the inquiry into the conduct of Cahill.

"This is still a live issue, with reputational effects for all those involved, including Mr Cahill, Mr Lauristen, the Attorney General (Simon Corbell) and the current chief magistrate (John Burns)," ACT Shadow Attorney-General Vicki Dunne told Lawyers Weekly.

Dunne denied that the Opposition was raising the matter to score political points, given it has nearly been one year since Cahill retired, and said that the ACT Government's handling of the matter goes to the heart of "openness and transparency in government".

"I expressed concerns when the judicial commission was first established (November 2009) about whether due process and proper procedures were followed," Dunne said. "By releasing the documents, we can see whether proper guidelines were followed."

Dunne said that all parties in the matter would be the subject of rumour and innuendo until the matter had been cleared up.

Corbell has previously ruled out conducting a review of events into the ACT government's decision to commission the inquiry.

The Attorney General's office failed to respond in time for today's deadline when contacted by Lawyers Weekly.

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