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The Bernard Murphy questions - the start, and the last word from Pat Christie who liked it!

This post was originally published on this site on 21 October, 2012 - it relates to what Justice Bernard Murphy was doing in the week of 20 August 2012 and it's worth a re-look


Given that we've been focussing on the events of the week of 20 August I thought I'd repost this piece that sets out the things that were exercising Justice Bernard Murphy's mind at the time.

Peter Gordon's approved and publicly released statement of 21 August 2012 is included in this post.   It's interesting to compare it with the draft statement that Nick Styant Browne released.

There was so much going on in that week - the Gillard record of interview was released, the interview with Paul Kelly on Sky News with Peter van Onselen and the press conference to end all press conferences after the slush/trust dramas.   I'll leave this post here at the front of the site for the rest of the day.


His Honour Mr Justice Bernard Murphy speaks, but not until he hears what Peter Gordon's going to say


If you've had a look at the email trail from The Federal Court you'll know there was a flurry of activity on Monday, 20 August, 2012.

A journalist from the Australian Financial Review wanted a couple of fairly simple questions answered.

In my experience, it takes about 2 minutes to deal with things like that.

You have the questions in front of you, you write an answer, you send it back.   I've done it dozens of times.   Simple, truthful answers flow simply and truthfully.  Judges generally have a knack for picking when witnesses are speaking the truth in court.

So on Monday, 20 August there's quite a flurry of emails trying to get His Honour Bernard Murphy to answer a few questions.

Louise Anderson the deputy registar of The Federal Court of Australia (a judicial officer, not a PR person) gets involved.

Denise Healy is the Family Court's PR manager and she's clearly very involved.

But there's nothing from Judge Bernard Murphy.

By Tuesday, 21 August, the pressure was building.   More and more journalists were asking for answers.   As you can see from the emails (full log of emails in the previous blog entry), there was a flurry of activity, phone calls, meetings interrupted, texts.  The PR staff had worded a few attempts at a media statement for Judge Bernard Murphy.   But there was nothing from the judge himself, despite him being involved in phone conversations with the court's staff about the matter from at least the night before.

By late in the afternoon of Tuesday, 21 August a few of those involved were showing some signs of frustration.   Then His Honour released a draft statement.

Murphy press statement_001
And this is the actual draft, as written by the Judge himself.

Word attachment to murphy press statement_001
Clearly the court staff had been waiting for His Honour to say something in answer to the pressure building from the media.   Within minutes of him sending his note to Louise Anderson, the Deputy Registrar of the court came this.

Louise Anderson releases statement 4.07PM_001
And this from Denise Healy, the PR manager who clearly thought some luck was needed for some reason or other- with the "Fingers Crossed!".

Denise healy - fingers crossed_001
There must have been quite a few people in The Federal Court of Australia hanging on that press release being sent out.   Including the highly respected Chief Judge of the Court Justice Keane, a man whom I would not like to keep waiting for anything.   Again, within minutes of Justice Murphy writing his release and it being sent out, this note from the Chief Judge.

Chief justice keane_001
Louise Anderson replied to the chief judge within seconds.   They were all clearly watching and waiting after what had been a tense and stressful day.

But what had Bernard Murphy been waiting for?   Why had he not answered the fairly simple questions the day before?

I found this note from the Principal at Maurice Blackburn, the firm where Bernard Murphy was Principal before Julia Gillard's government made him a judge for life with pension, very interesting.

Maurice blackburn 2_001
Maurice blackburn_001
So at 2.52PM that day, a [email protected] sent a copy of the Peter Gordon press statement, prepared on the letterhead of the law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler.   Natt.jackson's email went to a practice manager at Maurice Blackburn who sent it on to the Principal at Maurice Blackburn, Andrew Watson.   We don't know what phone conversations took place, but we do know Mr Watson's inbox recorded the arrival of the Peter Gordon statement at 2.56PM.

He sent a copy of it to Bernard Murphy just after 4PM that day.   Here is Peter Gordon's statement.

Peter gordon statement_001
Peter Gordon said that the partnership was "less than thrilled with how (their) relations with Bernard Murphy had deteriorated".

Not too bad I suppose, knowing what we know now.   And no reason to delay that press release any further.