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Friday, August 25, 2006

Complications for Chairman of Commission of Inquiry (Marcus Einfeld) as top lawyer quits

By Tim Dick

Marcus Einfeld, who has been recently handpicked by Solomon Islands Prime Minister as the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the "black tuesday" April riots in Honaiara, is facing another complication after his favoured solicitor quited yesterday to avoid a prostitute inflicting more damage on the former Federal Court judge.

Joseph Michael Ryan withdrew after a prostitute he knew found confidential notes during a night-time raid on his wheelie bin.

Mr Einfeld remains represented by the leading criminal barrister Winston Terracini, SC, and has engaged a public relations company to help him through the deepening imbroglio.

Detectives are looking into allegations he has twice before avoided fines by saying women living in the US were driving.

The allegations - made by a Sydney newspaper but denied by Mr Einfeld - date from his time as a judge. His court-supplied car was caught disobeying a Turramurra traffic signal in 1999, and speeding in the ACT the next year.

He allegedly submitted statutory declarations saying an Australian woman based in the US was driving at the time.

If correctly reported, the explanations bear an uncanny similarity to that used to avoid a $77 speed camera fine from January.

Mr Einfeld told a magistrate while on oath earlier this month that the fine was incurred by a Florida academic, Teresa Brennan. It later emerged that she died three years ago.

The Federal Court declined to comment on the new allegations yesterday, although the unnamed woman the Daily Telegraph claimed was involved said she had "no idea what you're talking about" when asked about them.

In a statement read outside the offices of his public relations firm, CPR, Mr Einfeld said: "I can only say that I reject any inference of wrongdoing." He said police were given a "comprehensive dossier" yesterday morning that would prove his innocence.

"This information establishes that I was not driving my car which was photographed by a speed camera on the day in question," he said. "I am very confident that the police investigation will clear my name."

His statement did not address the question of why he had given the name of a dead woman as the driver, but said he could say no more while police investigated.

"Rest assured, there are many things I would like to say, but I simply cannot do so at this point in time," he said.

"I thank my family and my many friends and colleagues who have shown enormous support during this very difficult time."

Detectives issued a statement of their own yesterday, saying: "All allegations are [the] subject of continuing extensive inquiries by detectives attached to Strike Force Chanter."

Police first said they would interview Mr Einfeld last week, which then changed to this week, leaving the Opposition furious there has been no interview so far.

"Three weeks later, zero has happened," said the shadow attorney-general, Chris Hartcher. "They should've interviewed him weeks ago. They shouldn't be waiting to see what the media finds out about him."

He forecast it would take police until 2012 to finish the inquiry.

Earlier on during the initial stages of the allegation, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says he has confidence in the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Marcus Einfeld regardless of overseas reports alleging Mr Einfeld had evaded a 77 dollar fine by a Sydney court for over speeding, which the former Australian federal Judge Einfeld has denied involvement.

Prime Minister Sogavare said despite the allegations, he maintains confidence in Mr Einfeld to fulfill his task as Chairman of last April's Chinatown riots.

Edited from Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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