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Govts decision 'sets precedent'

Front page of yesterday’s Daily Examiner.
Front page of yesterday’s Daily Examiner.

AN ASSOCIATE Professor of Law says the NSW Government's decision not to pursue charges against former Clarence MP Steve

Cansdell sets a dangerous precedent.

Associate Professor Sam Garkawe from the Southern Cross University School of Law said the outcome of the Cansdell case eroded the credibility of a statutory declaration as a legal document.

"I think it does set a very bad precedent and I would suspect the State and the Commonwealth will get their heads together to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again," he said.

"It seems as though he has got off on a technicality where he has wrongly signed a Commonwealth stat dec when he should have signed a NSW stat dec."

Assoc Prof Garkawe said without seeing all the evidence it was difficult to comment on specifics, but he believed Mr Cansdell had still committed an offence under Commonwealth law.

Mr Cansdell resigned in a cloud of controversy last September after walking into Grafton police station with a speeding fine with a falsified statutory declaration on the back signed by one of his staff members.

Following lengthy inquiries by police, a brief of evidence was forwarded to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution for consideration.

But the DPP has recently advised it is not satisfied there are reasonable prospects for a conviction for a Commonwealth offence.

NSW Opposition leader John Robertson and Shadow Police Minister Nathan Rees did not return a number of calls from our reporters yesterday.

Topics:  falsifying staturory declaration, member for clarence, precedent, steve cansdell


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