Inquiry called into Joh trial allegations
By Bill Mason
BRISBANE — A full public inquiry will be held into "extremely serious" allegations about the trial of former Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
The Criminal Justice Commission has reluctantly appointed Operation Trident royal commissioner William Carter to investigate claims that a jury panel was dismissed wrongly, allowing Bjelke-Petersen supporter and former Young National member Luke Shaw to become foreman of the succeeding jury. This jury failed to reach a verdict on charges of corruption against Bjelke-Petersen.
The jury was reportedly hung 10-2 for a guilty verdict.
The CJC delayed launching an inquiry into the charges because it supposedly feared being accused of political bias because it had originally carried out the prosecution against the former premier.
A report by the sheriff's office, which was never made public, raised doubts about the entire jury selection process.
Senior prosecutor Nicholas Cowdey, QC, said it was extraordinary that the sheriff's report had remained secret: "In the interests of keeping the system fair and honest, these matters must be investigated.
"If there is anything in the report that casts doubt on the basis given for the application [by the Bjelke-Petersen defence] to discharge the first jury panel, then that would raise matters going to the administration of justice."
Many people in this state thought it amazing that a member of the Friends of Joh should somehow become foreman of a jury which later was locked up on the votes of only two jury members.