Collaery trial: welcome removal of secrecy orders but prosecution should not proceed

The lifting of secrecy orders this week in the trial of lawyer Bernard Collaery is welcome but the prosecution should not proceed, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“We are pleased that the court recognised the importance of open justice to a fair trial, but the charges against Bernard Collaery should be dropped,” said Mr Graham Droppert SC, National President, ALA.

The ALA believes that the charges against Mr Collaery are an attack on the legal profession and on Mr Collaery for acting as a lawyer within his professional rules.

“Lawyers must be able to defend their clients in accordance with their professional standards without fear of state prosecution,” said Mr Droppert SC.

The prosecution is a breach of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the General Assembly in 1990. The Principles state that lawyers have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action.

“Many lawyers around Australia, acting in the best interests of their clients and justice, make available materials that may embarrass governments or expose wrongdoing. It is right and proper that they continue to do so when circumstances require,” said Mr Droppert SC.

“Lawyers play a vital role in ensuring that the right to freedom of speech is protected in our democracy. We give voice to the truth when it is inconvenient and that must continue to be our role.”

Bernard Collaery is a member of the Australian Lawyers Alliance and in 2018 he was awarded the organisation’s national Civil Justice Award.

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