Haneef affair may remain shrouded in secrecy

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Melbourne, July 28 : New South Wales Supreme Court Judge John Clarke has said that he is ready close his inquiry into the Mohamed Haneef affair on grounds that much of the information he has seen cannot be made public.

Clarke has also said that he will not be seeking the powers of a royal commission to conduct the remainder of his inquiry, which effectively could mean that the entire affair may remain shrouded in secrecy.

Dr Haneef was arrested in Brisbane last year over suspected links to botched terror attacks in Britain and detained for 12 days. Despite the case against him collapsing amid accusations of bungling by the authorities, the Federal Government cancelled the doctor's visa.

In a message posted on the inquiry website today, Judge Clarke said he had reluctantly informed Attorney General Robert McClelland that more information than originally thought would have to remain secret.

"During the past three months I have been given a vast amount of material relevant to my terms of reference by Commonwealth and state departments and agencies with involvement in the matters under investigation and also by Dr Haneef's representatives," Judge Clarke said.

"A very high proportion, however, of the material from departments and agencies carries a security classification which limits the extent to which it can be shown to other people or disclosed generally," he added.

The originating agency alone had the authority to remove the classification and the inquiry had not been given authority to publish classified material, he said.

According to The Australian, Clarke said he had not sought the declassification of the documents because he believed the hurdles would be "virtually insurmountable".

Publishing some information without the agreement of UK authorities would seriously damage the international relationship between Australia and the UK.

"Faced with the need to advance the investigation, which has already been significantly delayed, I felt that I had no choice but to advise the Attorney-General that the inquiry will be unable to proceed effectively unless it is able to withhold publication of a large part of the proceedings," Clarke said.

ANI

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