Pic Credit: melbourneonlinenews.net.au
The Victorian Opposition ordered the Commissioner of Legal Services to investigate the MinterEllison law firm and the in-house legal staff of the Victorian health department through communications that were not given to the hotel quarantine inquiry.
The problem relates to what Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton knew about the hotel quarantine programme’s use of private surveillance.
It was announced earlier this week that Professor Sutton advised his attorneys not to supply the inquiry with a series of emails pertaining to his interpretation of the decision to use private protection in hotels.
This week, Shadow Attorney-General Edward O’Donohue wrote to Legal Services Commissioner Fiona McLeay, alleging that MinterEllison and the legal staff of the Department of Health and Human Services ( DHHS) may have violated their responsibilities under the principles of legal professional conduct.
This is a critical problem that needs to be discussed,’ he told ABC.
In this case, the hotel quarantine investigation, prosecutors have a responsibility not only to their client but also to the judge. This is just part of getting to the truth and getting to the facts.
This concerns with the processing of records, the non-disclosure of key issues treat the hotel quarantine investigation with disrespect, and Daniel Andrews has to ensure that all appropriate information is provided so that the evidence can be accessible to Victorians.
My fear is that there might be other records that have not been produced as well, and both such civil officials and ministers are responsible for ensuring that any important piece of evidence has been produced.
In an exceptional sitting on Tuesday afternoon, Tony Neal QC, a lawyer assisting the hotel quarantine investigation, disclosed that the investigation was finding further DHHS documents, which best suggested that Professor Sutton was aware of the use of private surveillance.
The investigation heard in August that 90% of the cases of active coronavirus in Victoria at that time could be attributed to a family of four staying at the Swanston hotel in Melbourne’s Rydges, and cases from that hotel and another hotel included in the scheme, the Stamford Plaza, accounted for around 99% of the cases.
DHHS said it was completely cooperating with the investigation in a statement released earlier this week and had provided additional details as needed.
It said there will be an immediate response to all new requests for information. Professor Sutton was not present at today’s daily press conference arranged by Premier Daniel Andrews.
Mr. Andrews said Professor Sutton was preparing to prepare a further relaxation of constraints for the expected announcement on Sunday.
Professor Sutton said earlier this week in a statement that he had completely cooperated with the investigation and took his commitments to it seriously. By November 6, the inquiry is expected to return to the Victorian Governor.