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Thursday, 3 May 1984
Page: 1557

Senator PRIMMER —My question, which concerns the prosecution of an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Don Witheford, whose case was described by the Acting Chief Magistrate as being 'conceived in prejudice and born in bias', is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask: Is it a fact that a private Sydney barrister by the name of Hastings has been retained for the past several months at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars to assist Foreign Affairs officers working on Mr Witheford's prosecution? Is that barrister still working out of the Department of Foreign Affairs? If so, will the Attorney provide full details of Mr Hastings's hiring, including the costs involved and the level of security clearance, if any, he enjoys?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am not aware of the existence of any brief of this kind to anyone from the Sydney Bar, but I will certainly find out the information, either from the Minister for Foreign Affairs or from my Department, to the extent it may have been the case that if such a briefing did occur it was through my Department, although I do not believe it was. I will do my best also to get the other information for which the honourable senator asks.