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Cansdell avoids criminal charges

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The NSW Attorney General Greg Smith continues to baulk at calls for criminal charges to be laid against disgraced former Clarence MP Steve Cansdell despite mounting pressure from the opposition.

Advice from a retired senior barrister, Bruce James QC, that Mr Cansdell could be charged for lying under oath will not be considered by the Attorney General’s department as the point of view was ‘unsolicited’.

Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch last week accused his government counterpart of ‘ducking and weaving’ after he passed the buck to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

‘The advice from Mr James QC was unsolicited advice and as such it is a matter for the NSW DPP,’ Mr Smith said in a statement now added to the Hansard record.

Mr Lynch questioned Mr Cansdell’s criminal liability in light of the recent jailing of a British MP, Chris Huhne, over a similar matter.

He then asked if the Attorney General would be directing the DPP to reopen the case, to which the reply was, ‘No’.

‘The matter was investigated by the NSW Police Force and was then referred to the Commonwealth DPP for appropriate action following advice from the NSW DPP,’ Mr Smith told parliament at the time.

‘They are both independent, they are both people who are not politicised, both people who do not want to be politicised and they are both people who we are not going to try to politicise.

‘The Commonwealth DPP has concluded that there is not a reasonable prospect of prosecution and has decided not to proceed with the matter.’

Mr Cansdell avoided prosecution for lying under oath after charges against him were dropped last year when a staffer, who Cansdell originally claimed to be driving his car when it was snapped by a speed camera in 2005, refused to give a statement.

Despite Mr Smith’s assurance that the onus was on the DPP to follow up on Mr James’ legal advice, the DPP later wrote to Mr Lynch telling him the department could not act unless it was referred from the Attorney General’s office.

The DPP has yet to respond to the referral.


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