Ex-Aussie minister Andrews promises co-operation in Dr Haneef judicial inquiry

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Sydney, Mar 13 : Former Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has said he would extend all cooperation in the judicial inquiry into the case of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef, who was linked to terror organisations but was later absolved of the charge.

However, Andrews didn't guarantee to tender evidence to the public hearing about his role in the case.

He said that he cancelled Haneef's visa on the basis of visa character test provisions as understood at the time, and also on the basis of evidence provided by the Australian Federal Police. Later, he revoked the Indian doctor's visa just hours after he was granted bail last year.

"I will co-operate, I will meet with Mr Clarke, I will assist him. I acted according to the evidence provided to me, according to the law as it stood at that stage, and I make no apology for doing that. If this inquiry is truly about trying to improve the way in which we carry out our security operations in Australia, well then that can be beneficial," the news.com.au quoted the ex-minister as saying.

He added: "I will be available to meet with Mr Clarke and to assist him in his inquiry."

Defending his decision of cancellation of Dr Haneef's visa, Andrews said: "I make no apology for having acted in the national interest and having acted in a way that put the safety and security of Australians first. I acted on the brief of evidence and I acted on the interpretation of the law as it was understood at the time."

In overturning his cancellation of the doctor's visa, the court had applied a new, different interpretation of the character test, Andrews said and added that he had nothing to fear from the Clarke inquiry.

Asked if he would be prepared to give public evidence to the probe, he replied: "That will depend on the circumstances of the time. I'm indicating that I will be co-operative in this inquiry."

Meanwhile, Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said that the inquiry was premature and a "political stunt", and raised concerns about its legality.

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