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”.
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.
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.
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.
Selby’s submission to Chief Justice Spigelman, May 22, 2008
ABC Four Corners’ story on the murder of John Newman MP, April 7, 2008