Liberals in DPP porn crisis
September 19, 2006 12:00
THE NSW Liberal Party's star recruit warned a colleague thatchild pornography had been found on his computer – before alertingpolice.
The Liberal candidate for Epping and would-be attorney-general,prosecutor Greg Smith, is now at the centre of a controversy at theoffice of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
A briefing document shown to The Daily Telegraph by sourcesclose to the office of the DPP reveal Mr Smith phoned senior Crownprosecutor Patrick Power on July 4 and asked him to come into theoffice "urgently".
He then informed Mr Power that explicit material – a video – had allegedly been found on his PC by an IT technician.
Mr Smith then asked Mr Power to resign and allowed him to go home.But it was not until later that day Mr Smith called the office ofPolice Commissioner Ken Moroney – and another two days before Mr Powerwas arrested by police and charged.
The document was dated July 25 and was attributed to Mr Smith.
It strenuously denies any corruption or favouritism in his decision not to tell police before Mr Power was alerted.
The bombshell will harm Mr Smith's standing as the candidate for Epping.
It will also muddy Opposition Leader Peter Debnam's attacks onPremier Morris Iemma over sex offenders – and embarrass the Opposition,which has attacked the DPP for discrepancies over this case.
Mr Smith was selected at the weekend to be the Liberal Party'scandidate for Epping on a platform of law and order, ahead of SexDiscrimination Commissioner Pru Goward.
Both Prime Minister John Howard and Mr Debnam praised Mr Smith yesterday, saying he would be a good Liberal representative.
Shadow attorney-general Chris Hartcher reissued his calls for theDirector of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery to explain the delayover informing police about Mr Power but would not comment on whetherMr Smith – who is tipped to take over Mr Hartcher's portfolio after theelection – should be held responsible.
"The boss is the one accountable," Mr Hartcher said.
Attorney-General Bob Debus praised the DPP's office for its handling of the matter.
The briefing note stated that on July 4, an IT worker in the officeof the DPP was working on Mr Power's home computer which he had broughtinto the office to be repaired. After discovering a video of what wasalleged to be child pornography, he notified his supervisor, who thenalerted Mr Smith.
Mr Smith called a meeting with senior prosecutors Mark Tedeschi andLuigi Lamprati. He then called Mr Cowdery before phoning Mr Power athome to tell him to come to the office "urgently".
Mr Smith told Mr Power he should stand aside. It was some time later that day before he called the chief of staff to Mr Moroney.
Mr Power was arrested and charged two days later with possession ofchild pornography, which carries a maximum penalty of five years injail.
In the document, Mr Smith said the "Deputy DPP cannot summons apolice officer in five minutes". He states that the decision to notcharge Mr Power until 48 hours later was a matter for the police.
Last night, Mr Smith attacked The Daily Telegraph forpublishing the revelations – but did not deny contacting Mr Powerbefore alerting police. He also suggested he was acting under ordersfrom Nicholas Cowdery.
He said: "The article falsely claims I improperly warned a colleaguethat child pornography had been found on his computer thus tipping himoff before any police action might be taken. This suggests grossimpropriety by me when all I was doing was complying with theinstruction from the DPP and was assisted in what I did by the SeniorCrown prosecutor and the other deputy director of the DPP."
Mr Cowdery is overseas and is due to return next week.
Mr Smith faced criticism as acting director of public prosecutionsafter a case against a convicted paedophile was dropped. The incidentsparked a Crown Solicitor's review when it was revealed Mr Debnam hadphoned Mr Smith demanding to know why the case had been "no-billed".
Mr Power is due to appear in court next week to face charges.