No Apology For Haneef Visa Decision : Peters

No apology for Haneef visa decision: Andrews

The Canberra Times
16/10/2008 1:00:00 AM

Former immigration minister Kevin Andrews has defended his decision to revoke the Australian visa of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef.

Mr Andrews gave evidence in camera yesterday for three hours before the head of the inquiry into the affair, former NSW Supreme Court justice John Clarke, QC.

Mr Andrews said afterwards he had made a decision ''in the national interest'' based on information provided to him by his department and the Australian Federal Police.

Dr Haneef, who had been working on the Gold Coast, was held without charge for 12 days after being arrested in July last year. He was later charged with supporting terrorism in relation to a failed plot in Britain.

After a magistrate found the police case to be weak Dr Haneef was granted bail, but Mr Andrews, acting under the Migration Act, cancelled his visa on ''character grounds''.

Dr Haneef's lawyers succeeded in appealing against the cancellation.

Yesterday, Mr Andrews rejected a suggestion that he should acknowledge he was wrong and that Dr Haneef was innocent, saying he made no apology for his actions as minister.

''The question of Dr Haneef's guilt or innocence was a question for the police investigation, for the Director of Public Prosecutions and, had it reached that stage, for the courts. That wasn't a question before me at any stage,'' Mr Andrews said.

It was up to him as immigration minister to decide if he had a reasonable suspicion as to whether Dr Haneef had an association with people engaged in criminal conduct.

''That's the test that I had to apply under the migration legislation; that's the test I did apply,'' he said.