‘Millions squandered’: Lawyer wants inquiry into commission
A lawyer has called for an independent inquiry into the prosecuting practices of the Crime and Corruption Commission, after the dismissal of a fraud charge against seven ex-Logan councillors.
Calvin Gnech said the failed CCC prosecutions had caused both a catastrophic and irreversible impact upon the seven ex-councillors, by destroying their reputations and careers.
"It has squandered millions of taxpayer dollars and caused significant expense when an entire local government was erroneously disbanded," Mr Gnech, said.
A charge of fraud, with a circumstance of aggravation, against ex Logan mayor Luke Smith and seven ex-councillors, resulting from a CCC investigation, was dismissed today, after the prosecution offered no evidence.
Mr Smith is still facing trial on other charges.
"In recent years, the CCC's success rate for prosecutions has been abysmal," Mr Gnech, who did not represent any of the councillors but who has acted in cases involving the CCC, said.
"If any other agency had as poor a record as the CCC, where they had irreparably ruined people's lives, careers and trashed their reputations, serious questions would be asked. In fact, serious questions need to be asked."
Mr Gnech said in the 32-year history of the CCC, all governments had made it clear, through legislation and parliamentary speeches, that the CCC was nothing more than an investigative and referral agency, not a prosecuting authority for criminal offences.
"There are only two criminal prosecuting agencies in Queensland and that is the QPS and the DPP," Mr Gnech said.
"The way the CCC is behaving with their own 'extra-judicial' prosecutions is seriously undermining the integrity of the criminal justice system here in Queensland."
Mr Gnech said there was clearly a conflict of interest when the chair of the CCC often played a prominent role in senior appointments to the DPP and QPS.
"Serious questions also need to be asked about the CCC's continued intrusion and dilution of the prosecutorial independence of both the QPS and the DPP," he said.
"The CCC's over-reliance on and abuse of coercive hearings, commonly referred to as 'star chambers', that I believe could be unlawful, is yet further evidence of the lack of actual investigative integrity and the gross over-stepping of accepted prosecutorial norms," Mr Gnech said.
He said he would support a full and independent inquiry into the prosecuting practices of the CCC.
Originally published as 'Millions squandered': Lawyer demands inquiry into CCC