By Charlie Brady
It should be known in about three weeks whether exhibits which helped to convict Ray and Peter Mickelberg of the 1982 Perth Mint swindle were fabricated.
Last month, WA Chief Justice David Malcolm ruled that it was "in the interest of justice" that further independent scientific tests be carried out on the exhibits. The order was made over the objections of the Crown Law Department and the police. The exhibits left Perth last week to fly to England.
There, handwritten notes purported to be a "complete and contemporaneous" record of a four-hour interview, in which Peter Mickelberg claims he was verballed, will be subjected to analysis which permits the detection in manuscripts of additions, deletions and missing pages.
Extracts from Ray Mickelberg's police file will then be taken to Germany and the United States to determine the date when particular entries were made. Demonstration that the police record entry is a forgery would very strongly support Mickelberg's claim that a fingerprint critical to his conviction was fabricated by police.
Mickelberg supporters had further good news earlier this year when defamation actions against the author of a book on the case were struck out by the Supreme Court.
The defamation actions by some of the police named in the book had suppressed its distribution. Despite strenuous efforts by author Avon Lovell to have the charges bought to trial, a trial has never been held. Master Adams found an "inordinate and inexcusable delay" in bringing the case to court and that "the plaintiffs were not anxious to go to trial and were apparently quite content to string the actions out".
As a result, The Mickelberg Stitch is once again available from Perth bookshops, and is back on the shelves of the State Library. Reports, however, indicate that some police are advising retailers that it is not "in their interests" to stock the book.
Copies of the book (and a subsequent book, Split Image, on the defamation actions and the Mickelberg appeals) are available from the Mickelberg Committee, 81 Mullalloo Drive, Mullalloo WA 6025.