Haneef inquiry 'lacked teeth', says probe chairman

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Brisbane, Sep.24 (ANI): The chairman of an inquiry commission investigating the alleged terrorist antecedents of Indian -born doctor Mohammad Haneef, has claimed that he did not have sufficient power to investigate the affair.

John Clark claimed that had been given those powers, he would have been able to compel former politicians, including former Prime Minister John Howard and former Attorney General Philip Ruddock to give evidence.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Clarke as further saying that the inquiry into the botched investigation "had no power at all" and was unable to compel agencies to produce evidence or to demand the appearance of former ministers.

He further said that such a power would have enabled it to reach a firm finding on whether there was a political "conspiracy" in which the former immigration minister Kevin Andrews came under political pressure to take action against Haneef, who was wrongly accused of aiding terrorists.

"I had no power at all. I think I got there in the end - in other words, I got the right results - in all but one area.

That was the political area ... I had no power to compel the minister and the prime minister to attend. One [the former prime minister Mr Howard] declined and the other [the former attorney-general Mr Ruddock] came and said he simply had to go after an hour and a half. The minister for immigration did come and justified, in his own mind, what he had done ... If I had powers I could have controlled the situation," Clarke told the Commonwealth Ombudsman's conference in Canberra last night.

Clarke told the Herald he believed Andrews probably had not come under undue pressure but that he "could not get to the bottom of it".

The inquiry would have been smoother and faster had he been able to control it, he said.

Last year's inquiry last year was ordered by the Rudd Government and followed the charging, release and deportation of Dr Haneef over alleged links to a terrorist attack at Glasgow Airport.

Clarke's 310-page report criticized the lack of co-operation between security and police agencies and called Andrews's decision to revoke Dr Haneef's visa "mystifying". (ANI)

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