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Petition regarding the convictions of Morant, Handcock and Witton
House of Representatives committee
Monday, 15 March 2010
Petition regarding the convictions of Morant, Handcock and Witton

CHAIR (Mrs Irwin) —I hereby open the public hearing of the House of Representatives Petitions Committee. I welcome all witnesses and members of the public to the Petitions Committee hearing today into the petition that has been presented to the House of Representatives regarding the convictions of Messrs Morant, Handcock and Witton.

Under the rules of the House of Representatives the Petitions Committee is required to consider if petitions comply with the appropriate rules. If so, the petition may then be presented to the House, and the committee may refer it to the relevant government minister for a response. We may also hold public hearings into petitions, allowing both government agencies and principal petitioners to consider further the concerns raised in petitions and the response made—which is what we are doing here today.

In this case, the petition was referred by the committee to the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General’s reply to the committee has been presented in the House and is published on the committee’s webpage. The Attorney has referred the petition to the British Secretary of State for Defence—as the appropriate authority to review the decisions that were made at that time—for review and any further action he considers appropriate.

So that we can all be clear about the procedures that the committee will follow today, I will outline them briefly now. First, I will invite witnesses to come to the table in turn to answer our questions individually or as representatives of a single department or organisation. When all witnesses or groups have been heard individually and we have had a short break, I will invite all witnesses to return to the table together for further questions and discussions. During that roundtable discussion, I ask that questions and answers be directed through me as the chair. This will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard. As you can see, the committee’s proceedings are being filmed and broadcast. If any witnesses have any concerns about this, please inform a member of the secretariat staff.

[9.32 am]