Mohamed Haneef Seeks Hefty Compo

Mohamed Haneef seeks hefty compo

Susanna Dunkerley
The Herald Sun
December 25, 2008 12:00am

INDIAN doctor Mohamed Haneef will seek substantial compensation for being wrongfully charged and detained over a British terrorist plot.

Dr Haneef also wants an apology after an inquiry found that there was never any evidence to link him to the failed attacks on Glasgow and London last year.

The Federal Government admits mistakes were made at the highest level but says an apology could open avenues for compensation.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said an apology could affect the legal process.

“Representing the interest of the Commonwealth and the taxpayers of Australia, it's not appropriate for me to make any admissions,” he said yesterday.

Dr Haneef was arrested at Brisbane Airport in July last year and was held for almost two weeks before being charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation.

His visa was cancelled by then immigration minister Kevin Andrews, who ordered he be held in detention pending the hearing of the charge.

Dr Haneef then spent more than a week in detention before the charge was dropped and he was allowed to go home to India.

His lawyer, Bernard Murphy, said the compensation claim would be based on malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and defamation. And it would be “substantial”.

“He's entitled to damages for the loss of reputation, he's entitled to damages for the damage to his career, and he's entitled to damages for the dislocation he has suffered,” Mr Murphy said.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said that the Government had taken a “sensible” approach by deciding not to issue an apology.

“Dr Haneef's lawyers . . . are talking about large sums of money,” Senator Brandis said.

“It would be quite inappropriate . . . for the Government to make any admissions that might expose the Commonwealth to a liability.”

Philip Ruddock, who was attorney-general at the time of Dr Haneef's arrest, said he believed the doctor was not entitled to an apology.

“One should not apologise for seeking to ensure that matters that tragically occur that involve terrorist acts are thoroughly investigated, to see whether or not there are any implications for Australia,” Mr Ruddock said.