Who did what and when in Gillard's "innocent and proper role" in the Blewitt Power of Attorney fraud
That's a February 1993 photo of sophisticated property tycoon Ralph Blewitt with the mo, glasses and perm on the right of screen. Bruce Wilson's next to him with Bill Ludwig and Ian Cambridge seated at the front at their annual conference - just before Bruce bought Kerr Street with Ralph's POA created by the Wilson girlfriend Julia.
Gillard and Wilson agree on one thing in their story about the Power of Attorney - the timeframe during which it went from discussion to an executed and witnessed document. Gillard had 1.5 hours.
There was a lot to do during those 1.5 billables at Slater and Gordon!
In her 11 Sept 1995 Exit Interview Gillard makes clear that she prepared the POA for Bruce, not Ralph.
On 10 Sept 2014 she told the Royal Commission;
22 22 Q. Do you recall who asked you to prepare this power of attorney?
25 24 A. As I have referred to in, I think, the 1995 interview, it arose out of discussions about Mr Blewitt wanting to buy an investment property, the decision narrowing down to bidding on the Kerr Street property, and Mr Blewitt not nbeing personally able to be there to do that bidding.
"Narrowing it down to bidding on the Kerr Street property" means the POA issue couldn't have been discussed before the Gillard/Wilson/Blewitt Thai dinner on 3 February, 1993.
Wilson had earlier give the Commission the following evidence, including this helpful observation about who Gillard was taking instructions from, "she said she could do it in the morning for me".
So with their evidence corroborating each other, we can reliably narrow down the timeframe during which they say things happened.
3 February 1993 Blewitt/Wilson decided to bid on the Kerr Street property at the 13 Feb auction.
But there was a problem -at dinner that night Blewitt stated he could not be present in Melbourne to bid on the 13th.
Rather than suggest a Nominee as provided for in the Contract, Gillard suggested a Power of Attorney for Bruce - he agreed and they say they left dinner with Gillard to "fix up the power of attorney for me (Wilson) in the morning".
Wilson gives us the end of the time-frame too. After the POA had been completed "I then drove Blewitt to the airport as he was leaving to go to Perth that morning".
Blewitt states that his practice was always to catch the "red-eye" or first flight out of Melbourne on his return to Perth (0600 at the latest). However give Wilson/Gillard the benefit of any doubt by using Wilson's upper time limit, that Blewitt was leaving that morning - i.e. before midday.
In November 2014 we comprehensively researched the available flights Melbourne - Perth at the time. Ansett and Qantas operated to similar timetables and each had an 11.50AM flight, arriving Perth time around 2PM.
Now we can summarise.
Time-frame from instructions (which came from Wilson, not Blewitt) to execution of POA
Earliest time instructions given - say 9PM 3 February, 1993
Latest time executed POA document completed - say 10.30AM the next morning (to allow for Blewitt to get back to Wilson's car and drive in the pre-Freeway Melbourne traffic to Tullamarine for the last morning flight to Perth).
What did Gillard have to do after Wilson gave her instructions about the PoA?
Before we get to the evidence she gave at the Royal Commission, it might be useful to know that she told Peter Gordon and Geoff Shaw this piece of confidence shattering news at her Exit Interview:
On 10 September 2014 Ms Gillard told the Royal Commission how she produced this Power of Attorney in her role at Slater and Gordon (where she knew nothing about the conveyance of property.
11 11 Q. At the time you undertook the preparation of the power of attorney, had you had any expertise in the preparation of a power of attorney?
17 14 A. At Slater & Gordon at this time - obviously life would be different now, but at Slater & Gordon at this time there were precedent folders and you would dictate the variables. So there would be a power of attorney precedent. Variable one would be the name, you would dictate that, and the tape would be taken to word-processing and the document generated.
Anticipating you'd ask "what does the tape would be taken to word-processing mean?", 'Gillard said this during her marathon answering all the questions media appearance on 23 August 2012.
Let’s remember – and for the younger ones in the audience, they might now faint from shock – the usual way of dealing with instructions at Slater & Gordon back then was for lawyers to interview clients and then quickly dictate matters into a Dictaphone which was then sent to a centralised word processing pool we referred to as WANG because that was the word processing system that was operated by lawyers back then. Then it would come back, then you would correct the typos in it, then it would go back to WANG. And so life went on. So, you know, lawyers having tapes, Dictaphones handy was, you know, nothing unusual in Slater & Gordon or any law firm at the time; that’s how we did our work. Of course, life is now different and there are no centralised word processing pools to the best of my knowledge.
Slater and Gordon didn't want high-billing partners sitting in front of word processors. Lawyers were for billing, Wang girls were for typing.
Wilson drove Gillard to work that morning. She may have arrived early but it's unlikely the Wang word processing army did. Let's say the start point was 9AM. Let's say Gillard had no other appointments. Let's say Wang wasn't really busy either.
This is the document:
But before she could ethically whip her Dictaphone out for Ralph, Ms Gillard would have turned her mid to the obligations on a lawyer who always witnessed documents properly when involved in the donation of a Power of Attorney. Fortunately we have many ethical lawyers and para-legals who contribute to our website to fill in the gaps for you.
In April 2013 Spin Baby Spin wrote with a synopsis of lawyers obligations when dealing with the creation of a power of attorney.
Lawyers and Powers of Attorney
It is important to understand that when a lawyer receives instructions to prepare a Power of Attorney, the Donor (in this case Blewitt) is always the client, and the lawyer’s obligations are to the donor, NOT the Attorney (in this case Gillard’s boyfriend Wilson).
The lawyer has an obligation to explain the nature and effect of the power of attorney to the donor personally (or in writing) – without the Attorney in attendance (or interfering with the mail if it’s done in writing). The lawyer has to be satisfied that the donor understands the nature and effect of the document. They normally make enquiries of the Donor about what the Power of Attorney is intended to accomplish and at that point they (at least the ones I worked for) discussed what other options there are other than a Power of Attorney (eg in this case discussing completing the transaction via inter-state correspondence).
It is important to note that Lawyers generally attend on the Donor in person or if that’s not possible write a letter enclosing the document and explaining the effect of the instrument before it is signed. At this point they also confirm the instructions received – in effect parroting them back to the client. I cannot make the point strongly enough that they deal directly with the Donor in all aspects of the creation of the document. Lawyers do not like to have the Attorney involved at this stage, because they have an obligation to ensure the Power is created without any duress from the Attorney and to have the attorney involved blurs the lines and allows allegations of improper conduct to occur if something goes wrong. It’s just easier to cut the Attorney out of these dealings altogether at this point.
When personally attending on the Donor, (usually in the lawyer’s office) the lawyer would record the visit via a Diary Note where they note the nature of their advice – it’s at this point the document is signed in their presence and the diary note would confirm that. If they don’t prepare a Diary Note they open themselves up to the allegation that they failed to properly explain the effect of the document to the Donor and they can be sued for damages if it is improperly used by the Attorney.
Gillard has confirmed in one of her marathon interviews that in her legal office every phone call and personal meeting with a client was diarised. In my personal observations of lawyers, this is particularly so when advice is given verbally. It is quite often confirmed in writing (parroted back) but in the case of a Power of Attorney it would be normal for this NOT to occur – so for Gillard not to confirm in writing is perfectly normal conduct. I have typed up many diary notes of these conversations between clients and their lawyers. Gillard’s right on this point – so there should be a diary note of when she attended on Blewitt to provide advice on the Power of Attorney and that diary note would confirm she witnessed the document being signed. The question for Gillard is why she didn’t create a diary note when the Power of Attorney was witnessed – that would be the time she provided verbal legal advice to Blewitt in relation to its effects? What is her explanation for why she failed to document her advice via a diary note at that point in time? If there was a diary note, it would disprove Blewitt’s allegation she wasn’t present at the time of signin
What I find particularly difficult to come to terms with is:
- Gillard’s belief that it was OK to receive instructions from her boyfriend as the proposed Attorney instead of asking another lawyer in her firm to handle the matter for her.
- She failed to open a file “Ralph Blewitt Power of Attorney to Bruce Wilson”.
- She took instructions from Bruce Wilson (someone she was in a personal relationship with) instead of dealing directly with the Donor.
- She failed to tell the other partners at her firm she was personally preparing a power of attorney with her boyfriend as Attorney on her boyfriend’s instructions rather than getting instructions directly from the Donor.
- She failed to confirm in writing or via diary note confirmation from Blewitt that the instructions she got from Bruce were correct.
- She failed to discuss directly with Blewitt the purpose of the Power of Attorney – was it just for the conveyance or a mortgage as well, and if a mortgage how Blewitt was to approve the terms of the mortgage and what parameters Wilson was to work within. She failed to document these discussions if they did in fact take place. Her failure in this respect also opened Wilson up to the possibility of being sued by Blewitt for taking out a mortgage in his name on terms unsatisfactory to Blewitt.
- She failed to liaise directly with Blewitt on the effects of the Power of Attorney and that they were in accordance with his needs and wishes.
- She failed to make a file note of her interview with Blewitt when she purportedly witnessed the Power of Attorney.
- She didn’t ensure she had on file written instructions or confirmation of instructions from Blewitt to prepare the Power of Attorney.
The point I make here is that if Gillard had made proper notes in relation to the creation of the Power of Attorney – even if it was just filed on her JEG General File, it would be incredibly easy for her to prove to the Police that Blewitt’s allegation and Michael Smith’s complaint has no basis. There should be diarised evidence of her receiving instructions, providing advice and the personal attendance she made on Blewitt when she witnessed the document (which is normally when the verbal advice would be given and diarised in a diary note). Does Gillard have any recollection of documenting any of the instructions she received and meetings she had in relation to the creation of the Power of Attorney? If there is no recollection, does she expect that in the normal course of her practicing as a lawyer she would have documented these things? Why are these documents not in existence? I haven’t seen an explanation from Gillard on these points and that’s a shame because she could have shut this whole thing down if she had properly diarised the creation of the Power of Attorney according to her version of events. Why aren’t journalists doing their jobs properly and questioning her on these points? I don’t expect her to remember the witnessing, but she should be able to confirm she would in the normal course of things have prepared a diary note evidencing her attendance on Blewitt when she witnessed this document.
The fact that a lawyer failed to create the normal sort of documents one would expect to see when a Power of Attorney like this is created opens up the possibility of fraud on the lawyer’s part. That of course is the whole basis of Michael Smith’s complaint that the Police are currently investigating. I’d just like an explanation of why the documents weren’t created when in the normal course of things they would be (and mainly to protect said lawyer’s back as she was doing it on the instructions of the Attorney instead of the Donor).
Police need only subpoena Slater and Gordon for the documents relating to the creation of the Power of Attorney. Julia Gillard herself should be demanding Slater and Gordon release these documents as Blewitt has already waived privilege. She should be moving to clear her name publically. It wouldn’t be difficult for her to say she’s asked Slater and Gordon to release to her the file notes she made at the time so she can clear her name of fraud.
Every touch leaves its trace. Where are the documents Slater and Gordon? You have it within your power to prove via documentary evidence that the fraud allegation against Australia’s Prime Minister is without basis.
Ms Gillard always did everything by the book. She was deceived by Wilson and Blewitt and was innocent of their fraud. It follows that she would have been careful to research and comply with the law and her professional obligations in witnessing Ralph Blewitt donate his Power of Attorney to her boyfriend Bruce, doesn't it Commissioner?
She had a lot to do between 9 and 10.30 that morning. And all of that fuss, getting a tape delivered to the Wang girls, lecturing Ralph about his rights and Bruce's responsibilities, looking for conflicts of interest etc, well all of that fuss compressed into 1.5 hours with 10 days before the auction. All the while even a cursory glance at the Contract for Sale would have revealed that Wilson could have been Blewit's nominee on the day without a Power of Attorney document - so why the great rush?????
It makes no sense if you look at it unfolding before you as the day proceeds.
But created as a cover story after the event? We should ask the Donor about that. He donated the Power of Attorney, so he should know. Every touch leaves its trace.
Maybe it's in everyone's interests if we leave this one for a Jury to decide.