Hilton bombing frame-up collapses at last

Wednesday, June 12, 1991

By John Tognolini

Tim Anderson left the dock in the crowded Court of Criminal Appeal to cheers of jubilation on June 6, after Chief Justice Gleeson acquitted of charges relating to the 1978 Hilton Hotel bombing.

In its unanimous decision, the court said that evidence allegedly implicating Anderson not been properly investigated. This failure had been compounded by inappropriate and unfair action by the crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, QC.

Without these prosecution actions and omissions, Gleeson's 78-page ruling concluded, there was a "strong likelihood" that Anderson would have been acquitted. But the prosecution had misled the jurors by persuading them to "draw inferences of fact ... that were in some respects contrary to the evidence".

The appeals court could have ordered a new trial. Considering the record, however, Justice Gleeson said he did not consider that "the Crown should be given a further opportunity to patch up its case ... It has already made one attempt too many to do that ..."

Thus the second frame-up against Tim Anderson by the New South Wales police, like the first, ended in tatters. "Tim 2, NSW Cops 0" were the only words on one congratulatory fax that was sent to the office of the Campaign Exposing the Frame-up of Tim Anderson (CEFTA) following the acquittal.

CEFTA spokesperson Jane Mussett said, "We are elated that Tim Anderson has at last been acquitted. The judgment is a vindication of all our efforts, but there are many serious questions still to be answered about the handling of this case by the police and the prosecution. The case should never have occurred if the police and prosecution had done their jobs properly ... The spotlight is firmly on them and they should now be in the dock."

The police investigation, led by Detective Aarne Tees, had started on the word of notorious prison informer Ray Denning, who claimed that Tim Anderson had confessed to the bombing on at least four occasions. It was proved from prison documents that on at least one of those occasions Denning and Anderson were not even in the same jail, which meant that everything Denning said should have been taken with a bag of salt. During the trial, however, the prosecution did its best to cover up the part of his statement that was actually proved to be false and even suggested during the appeal that the prison records could have been wrong!

Knowing that Anderson could not be convicted on the word of Denning alone, the police needed something else, and that emerged in the form of Evan Pederick. Pederick came forward after learning of Anderson's arrest and confessed to bombing the Hilton on Anderson's instructions. Both the priest and the Queensland police to whom he initially confessed did not believe his story, and the Queensland police even drove him home. For the NSW police, however, Pederick was just what they needed.

Pederick then wound together a story, aided by the police and roved on almost every occasion to be incorrect or so bizarre as to be unbelievable. This did not stop the prosecution changing his story to fit the facts.

One of the main instances of this was the attempt to get the story right over the time, place and even person that Pederick was meant to have been assassinating. When it was proved that the Indian prime minister, Morarji Desai, could not have arrived at the time Pederick claimed he did, the prosecution claimed that he had mistaken the Sri Lankan president, Junius Jayawardene, for Desai. When that proposition was disproved, the prosecution said that Pederick must have seen Desai leaving, not arriving.

One day after his release, Tim Anderson produced evidence on ABC's PM showing that crown prosecutor Tedeschi withheld information which might have influenced the jury's decision had it been known. A Department of Public Prosecutions memo, dated July 10, 1989, recorded Pederick's solicitor asking for full indemnity before his client would give evidence against Anderson. Anderson said that there were at least two counts of perjury against Denning and Pederick that he believed should be followed up, and he was going to suggest that to the DPP.

Anderson said that "Denning's was a pathetic case. I resent, though, that he is being rewarded for his perjury against me. As for Pederick, I have no sympathy with the man any more. I did at first, but when I started to hear the lies he was coming out with about me, I lost all sympathy for him. I believe he should be accountable for those lies also."

Anderson's experience of the New South Wales justice system goes back to 1978 when he, Ross Dunn and Paul Alister were charged with conspiring to murder a fascist leader, Robert Cameron. This charge was laid on the word of police informer Richard Seary.

After seven years in prison, the trio were pardoned after an inquiry thoroughly discredited Seary's evidence. Nearly two years later they were compensated $100,000 each by the state government, yet the detectives who concocted the case are still in receipt of bravery awards from 1978.

Tim Anderson believes that there is a lot of malice in the minds of the police, who have been promoted since 1978, and who are now in a position where they are able to make strategic decisions in relation to major prosecutions.

The judgment clearing Anderson is a victory for civil liberties. The campaign in his defence brought together people from all different backgrounds and opinions. It was able to stand up against a large part of the media, which had supported the crown case since it was laid on May 30, 1989.

CEFTA's Jane Mussett said "If it were not for the dedication and persistence brought to the case by Lawyers Angela Avouris, Tom Molomby, John Nicholson, Peter Hidden and Ian Barker, and the readiness of many people to publicly support our campaign, an innocent man would still be behind bars.

"Tim Anderson was lucky — many people were prepared to publicly is innocence and to campaign for his release.

"His case is a damning criticism of the justice system. The acquittal has been a cause for celebration; it shouldn't become a cause for complacency."

One can only guess at how many other people are in jail, the victims of frame-ups, whose innocence will never be acknowledged.

Investigation of the conduct of police and prosecution must be carried out, and anyone responsible for perverting the course of justice should be held accountable for their actions. If this was done, miscarriages of justice would be far rarer.

CEFTA is calling for:

1) An independent review of the process of investigation and the evidence produced by it, before prosecutions are launched. This is clearly not happening now, despite the supposed independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

2) Compensation for Tim Anderson. Abuses of the criminal justice system would be far rarer if governments were obliged to compensate people such as Tim Anderson, Harry Blackburn and Lindy Chamberlain.

3) Investigation of prison informers and their relationship with police and prison officers, and restriction of their use.

4) Elimination of verbals, whether from police or prisoners.

Tim Anderson has been finally cleared in connection with the Hilton bombing, despite his name being linked with it by the media for nearly 13 years.

At a time of growing attacks on civil liberties, as seen recently in the frame-ups of Arthur Murray and Sonny Bates in the

Brewarrina "riot" case and the continuing trial of Canberra anti-apartheid activist Kerry Browning, the Tim Anderson victory is a much needed boost for everyone who has been standing up for civil liberties.

It brings into question the whole system of justice throughout Australia: from police lying and fabricating evidence with prison informers, to the factory line of the criminal courts to the New South Wales overcrowded prison system.