Former Cabinet Minister Shane Gibson’s lawyers appeared before a judge yesterday in their bid to stop his trial due to alleged improper conduct by police.
Gibson, the former labor and national insurance minister who is accused of receiving $610,000 in kickbacks from a contractor, appeared before Justice Indra Charles for a case management hearing on application to stay the proceedings as an abuse of process and a constitutional motion.
Gibson had the support of his wife and other well-wishers during the hearing.
His lead lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, QC, said that the defense might need documents from the Crown to support the constitutional motion and application for a stay for abuse of process.
Charles asked prosecutor Terry Archer, “Have you done full and frank disclosure in this matter? You cannot go ahead in a matter unless there is disclosure.”
Archer complained that he was being “ambushed” as he was under the impression that the matter would be adjourned based on discussions with the chief justice, before replying, “We say yes.” Archer said that he had come to get a date for the lead prosecutor, British QC James Guthrie.
Fitzgerald alleged that on September 25 police met with two lead prosecution witnesses and their lawyers to discuss their proposed testimony. During this alleged meeting, Fitzgerald said police spoke about editing and backdating statements “so it would appear that they were made before the charge date”.
Fitzgerald said the prosecution needed to confirm the authenticity of an audio recording of this alleged meeting, where the witness coaching is said to have occurred. Fitzgerald also said the defense wanted the police diary in relation to any meetings with witnesses Jonathan Ash and Deborah Bastian.
On the other hand, prosecutor Terry Archer said, “It is for them to prove the authenticity [of the recording] because it’s theirs.”
Archer continued, “They sent us an audio. There’s a question of who it is produced by. It’s theirs; they rely on it.”
Charles asked Fitzgerald, “Do you really want this matter heard? I just ask because it seems that you are making unreasonable requests. Can this not be achieved by cross-examination?”
Charles will hold a directions hearing on November 2 and the matter has been set down for trial on November 30.
Gibson’s criminal trial was initially set for July 11 but the date was vacated when Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs fell ill. He died on August 24.
Gibson is also represented by local Queen’s Counsels Anthony McKinney and Wayne Munroe.
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