Carmody loses battle to keep explosive recording hidden

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Former Queensland chief justice Tim Carmody has lost a bid to keep a recording of an explosive exchange with two fellow judges hidden from the public.

According to a report by The Courier Mail, Supreme Court judges have urged the State Government to release dozens of emails sent during Carmody’s controversial time as chief justice.

The recording and other documents are expected to be made public after The Courier Mail successful appealed a Right of Information request, which was initially denied on the grounds it would not lead to positive and informed debate.

Right to Information Commissioner Clare Smith said the public deserved to know what happened behind closed doors before Carmody’s resignation last year.

“It would provide the public with a more complete picture of the relevant events and the background to the conflict and disharmony within the court around the issues as well as giving context to the information that has already been disclosed,” she said in her decision to overturn the bid to keep it hidden.

“Disclosure (of information) could reasonably be expected to promote open discussion of these important public affairs and contribute to the debate ...”

In a conversation recorded on a government-issued phone by Justice John Byrne without the knowledge of others in the meeting, Carmody allegedly refers to other judges as ‘scum’. He has fought the public release of the tapes.

But Smith said the tapes are of interest to the public.

“ ... Given that issues affecting the operation of the Court were discussed, particularly important issues of public interest ... I do not accept that it was reasonable to expect that the discussions would remain confidential as between the three participants to the meeting,” she said.

She noted that Byrne was within his rights to record the meeting and that Queensland Police advised the release of the tape would not affect an investigation into the matter.

The Department of Justice and attorney-general fought the release of an email chain along with Carmody, despite the fact that all but two judges consented.  They have 20 days to appeal the decision.
 

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