ACCUSED: Dr Russell Pridgeon was charged with conspiracy to defeat justice.
ACCUSED: Dr Russell Pridgeon was charged with conspiracy to defeat justice. Adam Hourigan

Dr Pridgeon arrest questioned by former councillor

A FORMER Grafton councillor has questioned the methods used by the Australian Federal Police in the arrest of GP Russell Pridgeon.

Dr Pridgeon was arrested following AFP raids in Grafton on October 17. He is accused of being the mastermind behind an alleged child-stealing ring.

He was extradited to Queensland where he was granted bail on October 19 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and ordered to wear a GPS tracker before returning to court in December.

92-year-old Grafton resident Laurie Van de Velde served on Grafton City Council from 1975 to 1983.

The Dutchman also successfully fled Nazi Germany during World War II.

In a letter sent to The Daily Examiner, Mr Van de Velde claimed he recognised similarities in the way Dr Pridgeon was arrested to when he was interrogated during the German occupation of Holland.

"This is not a matter of national security, counter terrorism or of security risk management," Mr Van de Velde said in the letter.

"A simple phone call to ask he attend the local police station would have been more appropriate. To add further disdain, they then sought to have his licence to practice as a GP indefinitely revoked. A clear breach of human rights, something I never thought I would see again, and not in this country."

The Daily Examiner understands Dr Pridgeon has sent a letter out to other doctors around Australia since his arrest.

Community members have created a fundraiser to assist Dr Pridgeon with "legal bills" and "livelihood".

The letter from Laurie Van de Velde

I WAS stunned that 28 Australian Federal Police officers were involved to arrest and search Dr Pridgeon's place of residence. I have known Dr Pridgeon for 25 years, he is an outstanding physician.

I am familiar with the tactics of interrogation. This happened to me during the German occupation of Holland where after interrogation I was sent to a holding camp. Fortunately I was able to escape back to my parents' home. The Germans had my address so I was fearful for my family. Thankfully, I managed to have three hours grace before six Gestapo arrived at their door seeking my whereabouts. Sixty years later my sister disclosed to me how I had risked the life of my family and how as a two-year-old she sat on the Senior Gestapo's knee, softening his heart I presume, which effectively saved their lives.

I ask the question on the lips of many others: Who had so much power and influence to instruct the AFP to utilise so many resources, effectively excessive use of taxpayer funded money?

This is not a matter of national security, counter terrorism or of security risk management. A simple phone call to ask he attend the local police station would have been more appropriate. To add further disdain, they then sought to have his licence to practice as a GP indefinitely revoked.

It is hard to believe that in this beautiful country we have individuals who have the influence and power to exert this amount of power within a democratic system, where we pertain freedom of speech and the right to be "innocent until proven otherwise".

People in Australia need to demand that the corruption through the systems we rely on be exposed and transparency and accountability apply across all sectors. We only have to reference the recent Royal Commission to see how powerful people can allude justice by using our current laws against being held accountable.

I recognise this pattern of events currently experienced by Dr Pridgeon to be in keeping with those applied under the German Gestapo regime. Question the taxpayer funded AFP officers coming up from Canberra. A clear breach of human rights, something I never thought I would see again, and not in this country.

Yours sincerely,

Laurie Van de Velde

* The full letter has been edited due to legal reasons.



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