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City Desk
18 May, 2009  
Selby is as mad as hell

Hugh Selby wants an apology. The ANU academic whose submission to Chief Justice Spigelman sparked the judicial inquiry into the murder conviction of Phuong Ngo, says he’s been smeared in the Patten report and by the media … and he’s not going to take it anymore

Dear Acting Justice David Patten and Andrew (now Judge) Colefax SC,

Your recent report to Chief Justice Spigelman as to the safety of the murder conviction of prisoner Phuong Ngo includes statements that are robustly critical of me.

I shall assume that counsel assisting endorsed those statements unless either of you advise otherwise.

These statements have been repeated in NSW newspapers, radio and television. They have also been referred to by the media in Canberra, where I live and work.

Paragraphs 30 and 31 of the report say that I have been party to making allegations of fraud, perversion of justice, and other improper conduct against the police and prosecuting authorities – without providing a shred of evidence to support these allegations.

I am also implicated as making “offensively couched criticisms of the trial judge, Justice Dunford”.

See judicial report on Phuong Ngo’s conviction

At paragraphs 379, with critical comment in 380, and at 388, with critical comment at 389, Acting Justice Patten attributed statements to me.

I am not the author of the quoted statements. They are not to be found in my submission to the CJ. I do not know who authored them.

See my submission to Spigelman CJ

imageAt paragraph 501 it is suggested that I ignored the strength of the evidence against the prisoner and that I substituted analysis of the facts with unsupported allegations of gross impropriety.

Ray Hadley, an announcer on 2GB, said on Monday, April 21:

“Hugh Selby (pic) can hardly hold his head up at the ANU given what the judgement (sic) says about him.”

In The Sydney Morning Herald on April 27, Paul Sheehan incorrectly said in his column that I had made a contribution to the Four Corner’s program on Phuong Ngo’s conviction and that my submission to the Chief Justice was based, without a shred of evidence, on allegations of fraud, perversion of justice and improper conduct.

I am not aware of any attempt by you to correct those media statements, so far as their source was based on your report to the Chief Justice.

The allegations set out in your report (and relied upon by the media), if true, would mean that I deliberately misled the Chief Justice in my submission and therefore I’m not a fit and proper person to be a member of the NSW or ACT bars.

I made no contribution to the Four Corners’ story and I made no submission (beyond what I had submitted to Chief Justice Spigelman) to your judicial inquiry.

None of the attacks on my character, my motives or my conduct can be supported by what I submitted to the Chief Justice.

I have made no public statement about the conduct of the inquiry or its outcome. No person associated with your inquiry ever contacted me and I have not been sent a copy of your report.

I learned that two people you criticised received a letter in advance of the release of your report advising that those subject to adverse findings (rather than criticisms) would receive a draft copy.

However, they never received any draft material.

Like me they were publicly vilified without an opportunity to correct or comment.

My reputation is in tatters. You did that. I request that you fix it. I propose as follows:

1. You check my submission to the Chief Justice against the offensive and false remarks in the report that I have highlighted here.

2. Then being satisfied that a significant error has been made you promptly issue a statement to be widely disseminated to NSW media that does the following:

(a) Acknowledges that a clear inference in your report is that I set out to mislead the Chief Justice of NSW; that there was never any contact between me and you or any of your staff at any time during the inquiry; and that you have caused me considerable embarrassment, humiliation and hurt.

(b) Further, that you unreservedly withdraw each of the derogatory remarks about me because there is no evidence to back up any of them and that you make clear that in no way did I mislead the Chief Justice.

(c) Finally, that you apologise to me, my family, the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, and the Australian National University for your error.

Given your close familiarity with my submission to the CJ a 48 hour time frame for your response is more than adequate.

You can even do it below.

Yours faithfully,
Hugh Selby

Relevant links:

Hugh Selby

Selby’s submission to Chief Justice Spigelman, May 22, 2008

Report of the judicial inquiry into the murder conviction of Phuong Canh Ngo, April 14, 2009

ABC Four Corners’ story on the murder of John Newman MP, April 7, 2008


Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 18, 2009, 8:34 pm

That the legal system continues to get it so wrong seems not to deter the poor souls who believe a day in court will set them to rights or even be fair - so quo vadis for the hapless victim of this outrage?
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 18, 2009, 11:51 pm

Why doesn't he sue in defamation?
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 18, 2009, 11:51 pm

This is abso-bloody-lutely outRAGEous. Someone oughta set up an inquiry.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 19, 2009, 2:49 am

Having taken the opportunity (presented by this page) to read the report and Selby’s submission, Selby’s complaint doesn’t do much to enhance, or even preserve, his reputation. Selby is right on his second complaint: in pars 379 and 388 Patten is clearly quoting from some document other than Selby’s submission to the Chief Justice. Whether this was a document that was submitted with Selby’s submission is impossible to say on the basis of these documents. It looks like a case of simple misattribution, which could be easily corrected without much aggro (less, I would think, than is displayed in Selby’s letter). However, his first and third complaints are simply wrong. In his first complaint he says: “Paragraphs 30 and 31 of the report say that I have been party to making allegations of fraud, perversion of justice, and other improper conduct against the police and prosecuting authorities” They do not. They “record that the Inquiry, in addition to the submission from Mr Selby, received submissions from other supporters of Mr Ngo”, and then “deprecate the intemperate language and lack of objectivity characterising many of the submissions from those supporters of Mr Ngo” (and go on to give some frinstances). Selby is not mentioned by name in those criticisms. The language is capable—but no more—of referring to him, although the reference to “those supporters of Mr Ngo” is more likely to refer back to (some of) those “other supporters of Mr Ngo”——i.e., other than Selby——already referred to. (Especially so if you notice Mr Breen’s name among the other people making submissions.) With hindsight, it could have been made clear that the references were not to Selby——and that was perhaps exacerbated by the latter misattribution; but the passage not within a bull’s roar of saying what Selby says it says; and anyone can point out the matters I’ve just said. In his third complaint he says: “At paragraph 501 it is suggested that I ignored the strength of the evidence against the prisoner and that I substituted analysis of the facts with unsupported allegations of gross impropriety.” A moron in a hurry (to use a hallowed legal test——Morning Star Cooperative Society v Express Newspapers Limited [1979] FSR 113) might take that message; but the paragraph seems to distinguish between—— • on the one hand, submissions TO THE INQUIRY by Ngo’s supporters, in which submissions “the strength of the evidence available against Mr Ngo was virtually ignored” and “[u]nsupported allegations of gross impropriety were substituted for analysis of the facts”, and • on the other hand, Selby’s submission TO THE CHIEF JUSTICE, which, “on its face, raised matters calling for investigation”—which could not be the case if they met the description of “unsupported allegations of gross impropriety were substituted for analysis of the facts”. Again, the report does not seem to equate Mr Selby with Ngo’s “supporters”.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 19, 2009, 6:13 am

If Hugh Selby is aggrieved by a supposed finding (of which he had no notice)of misconduct, he can apply for an order in the nature of a writ of certiorari for the excision of so much of the report as relates to the supposed misconduct and for an order quashing that portion of it. However the matter does not strike me the way it strikes Hugh Selby and the legal costs might be horrendous. David Nelson Barrister.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 19, 2009, 6:14 am

Anon's May 19 @ 1.49 am lengthy submission suggests s/he could not sleep and had plenty of time to dilute dear Mr Selby being directly attacked by Mr Patten's decision via his sloppy decision writer. Misattribution is scarcely possible if Mr Patten read the decision before it was published, as a reasonabe bod, the Chief Justice or even "in the public interest" might expect - but dear Anon did not suggest this and maybe Mr Patten did read it and then misread it too?? In any event dear Mr Selby's rights have been "shopped" properly however described. PS - Anon's use of "seem" might also translate as deem.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 20, 2009, 12:09 am

“Seem” = “Deem”? Sounds like A P Herbert’s “standard clause for insertion into any modern Act of Parliament”: “If anything shall seem, / The Minister may deem; / His certificate of demption / Shall confer complete exemption.”
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 23, 2009, 8:50 am

I want to know whether the parties to whom Mr. Selby addressed his article and from whom he asked for a response have done so?. Cutie.