Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie. Kari Bourne

Cost is a reason for CMC not prosecuting false complaints

THE Crime and Misconduct Commission's reluctance to prosecute people who file false and vexatious complaints has been attributed to cost factors.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie on Thursday tabled the full review of the CMC that retired High Court Judge Ian Callinan and Professor Nicholas Aroney completed recently.

Letters between Mr Callinan and Mr Aroney and CMC chair Ross Martin show particular scrutiny was given to the absence of any action taken against baseless complaints filed to the watchdog.

Mr Callinan and Mr Aroney stated in their letter that Mr Martin had, in an earlier conversation, stated that while some false complaints would have met the condition for a prosecution "the expense of prosecution may not have been justified in such cases".

"You were then informed that expense was certainly not the most relevant consideration," the letter to Mr Martin stated.

"As a former prosecutor you would well know that many prosecutions are brought at very considerable expense and that deterrence is a highly relevant factor in the exercise of a prosecutorial discretion."

In reply Mr Martin said he did not mean to convey there were viable prosecution cases that existed.

He wrote he was aware cost was not the only consideration.

"But where, in a world of finite resources, the CMC has to choose between conducting an investigation into a matter of serious crime or misconduct, and conducting an investigation into a matter of so little objective credibility as to be apparently vexatious...the decision is not difficult," he wrote.

"To investigate a case of vexatiousness to the point of prosecution would be to invest far more in the case than would ever otherwise be done in the usual course.

"It was revealed earlier the report also recommended prosecuting people who made vexatious and baseless complaints to the watchdog to deter the behaviour.

"We have concluded that ways should be found to deter baseless complaints, not least so that proper and sufficient attention can be given to the genuine and substantial ones," the report stated.

The newly tabled information also reveals the CMC spent almost half a million dollars on legal fees last year.

More than $430,900 was spent on contractor fees in 2011-2012 and $343,939 on consultants.

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