Judge MURPHY and GILLARD helped Bruce Wilson steal AWU members' money - and get away with it
My letter to the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia about MURPHY's disgraceful conduct

Bernard Murphy's misleading evidence to the Trade Union Royal Commission

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As we know from MURPHY's notes, he was fully aware of the Workplace Reform Association by 8 August 1995, including the fact that money from it was laundered through Slater and Gordon's Trust Account and into the Kerr Street property.

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Compare and contrast what he knew with what he told the Trade Union Royal Commission.

First MURPHY's prepared statement - note the misleading and deceptive claim he only became aware of the AWU WRA Inc after he ceased to act for Wilson.  That is pure tosh.  Wilson told him about it while MURPHY was acting for him.

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No mate - you didn't become progressively aware over some weeks.  You were told by the crook who confessed what he'd done.  You noted "he'd involved Slater and Gordon in criminal wrong-doing".  And you knew all about it by 8 August 1995.  But you told no one and did nothing to protect your real client's interests.

MURPHY went on leave in September 1995, never to return to Slater and Gordon.  How convenient to suggest he learned the full AWU WRA Inc story between August and then.  Convenient, but untruthful.  He had plenty of time to protect his client but he chose to protect Wilson, himself, GILLARD and Slater and Gordon.

Here's some of his oral evidence to the Trade Union Royal Commission.

Q Did you have any awareness that (GILLARD) had set up an incorporated association?

A No. Not until after it became controversial, in August/September '95.


 I first became aware of the existence of the AWU WRA in the weeks between 8 August and early September 1995 ...


Q You say that occurred "after I ceased to act for Wilson."And you go on to say:

 10 ... as concerns began to be aired by some

 11 partners of the firm about Ms Gillard's

 12 involvement in the conveyance of the

 13 property at 85 Kerr Street, Fitzroy.


 15 And then going over to the next page you say:


 17 At the same time rumours were circulating

 18 that some of Julia Gillard's home

 19 renovations had been paid for by the AWU.


 21 You make reference here to two different matters: firstly,

 22 Ms Gillard's involvement in the conveyance of the property

 23 at 85 Kerr Street and secondly, rumours circulating about

 24 Ms Gillard's home renovations. If I can take those in

 25 turn. Looking at the third line of 3.4, you make reference

 26 to "concerns" being aired by some partners of the firm

 27 about involvement in the conveyance. Do you recollect when

 28 you first heard those concerns?

 29 A. Well, not exactly but in that period, so after

 30 8 August and before I last worked there in

 31 earlyish September 1995.


 33 Q. Who were the partners to whom you make reference as

 34 being the ones airing the concerns?

 35 A. I don't recall the partner that told me, but my

 36 recollection of the main source of the complaint was that

 37 Mr Styant-Browne, Nick Styant-Browne, was very concerned

 38 about Julia Gillard's involvement in the conveyance.


 40 Q. Just to be clear, in the third line of 3.4 you make

 41 reference to partners, plural, and you have told us about

 42 Mr Styant-Browne?

 43 A. I am not trying to suggest that Mr Styant-Browne was

 44 alone in his concern. It is a long time ago, but my

 45 recollection is that he was - he was the person who was

 46 hottest about that issue. I think the people I likely

 47 spoke to at the time were people including

 1 Nick Styant-Browne, Peter Gordon and Geoff Shaw, but

 2 I don't recall.


 4 Q. The mere fact, of course, that a partner had some

 5 involvement in a conveyance of itself and without more is

 6 not a matter that would give rise to a concern. What

 7 exactly were the concerns that Mr Styant-Browne aired with

 8 you?

 9 A. As I said, I don't recall Mr Styant-Browne saying it

 10 precisely. I just recall him being the primary source of

 11 it, but the concern that was conveyed was that

 12 Julia Gillard had created an association which might have

 13 been set up corruptly and might have involved corrupt

 14 moneys and it involved the firm in a conveyance involving

 15 those moneys.


 17 Q. That raises a number of issues, but picking up the

 18 latter one first, I think you made reference to corrupt use

 19 of the moneys. What you are talking about in 3.4 is

 20 a concern about Ms Gillard being involved in a conveyance

 21 of a property at 85 Kerr Street?

 22 A. Yes.


 24 Q. When just then you mentioned corrupt use of the money,

 25 were you indicating that part of the problem that had come

 26 to light was the source of the funds to acquire the

 27 Kerr Street property?

 28 A. I think so. It is a long time ago and it's sometimes

 29 hard to recall exactly when you learnt particular things.


 31 Q. Yes. Had it come to light by this stage, so

 32 August/September, that some $90,000 had come from the

 33 Workplace Reform Association to acquire the Kerr Street

 34 property?

 35 A. I don't remember.


 37 Q. Was it put to you that some of the funds to acquire

 38 the property had come from the slush fund, if I can call it

 39 that, that Ms Gillard had set up?

 40 A. I don't remember.


 42 Q. Was the real problem that was being raised the concern

 43 that union money may have been diverted into the

 44 incorporated association?

 45 A. I think that was one of the concerns.


 47 Q. You use the word "corruptly", corrupt use of the

 1 money. What was said to you to develop that proposition?

 2 Why was that suspicion --

 3 A. The other thing which occurred at the same time were

 4 the matters that I dealt with later in my statement about

 5 which I cannot inform you because of privilege.


 7 Q. Yes.

 8 A. That too was informing the discussion about what

 9 Julia Gillard did or didn't do.


 11 Q. But that really, without delving into the detail of

 12 the advice which, for the reason you have indicated, you

 13 don't want to travel into, that really dealt with

 14 a different matter, didn't it? That related to the

 15 possibility that funds had been moved in a particular way

 16 in 1995 or later. The point that you were adverting to in

 17 3.4 is a concern that had begun to be aired by some

 18 partners of the firm about Ms Gillard's involvement in the

 19 conveyance of the property at 85 Kerr Street, Fitzroy, and

 20 what I was endeavouring to explore with you is what

 21 precisely was the concern in relation to that conveyance

 22 that was aired.

 23 A. Well, I think all I can say is if Mr Wilson had been

 24 involved in wrongdoing later, what was - what had occurred

 25 earlier was the question that was swirling around Slater &

 26 Gordon at that point.


 28 Q. What had occurred earlier was the question swirling

 29 around Slater & Gordon?

 30 A. Well --


 32 Q. Well, what was the question swirling around Slater &

 33 Gordon?

 34 A. You are inquiring into privilege matters.


 36 Q. No, I'm not. The privilege matters relate to what

 37 occurred in 1995. I am actually asking you about the

 38 concern about the conveyance which was in 1993?

 39 A. What you can't do, I don't think, Mr Stoljar, is

 40 separate the two because what was concerning the partners

 41 was the relationship of Julia with Mr Wilson and what

 42 Mr Wilson may or may not have been up to.


 44 Q. In 1993 as distinct from 1995?

 45 A. Well, I don't know whether the distinction was drawn

 46 as neatly - in fact, I'm sure it wasn't drawn as neatly as

 47 that.

 2 Q. Had there been an investigation within the firm into

 3 these matters?

 4 A. Not that I was aware of.


 6 Q. Were the concerns ventilated by Mr Styant-Browne

 7 communicated orally or in writing?

 8 A. I never saw anything in writing and I don't recall

 9 Mr Styant-Browne communicating it to me. I do recall being

 10 told of his concerns.


 12 Q. Was there any document that you are aware of created

 13 by Slater & Gordon recording these concerns or the outcome

 14 of any investigation?

 15 A. I've seen a transcript of an interview but other than

 16 that, no.


 18 Q. You mean the interview of Ms Gillard?

 19 A. Yes.


 21 Q. Were part of the concerns that were ventilated with

 22 you by Mr Styant-Browne or others the fact, for example,

 23 that Mr Wilson had executed the documentation using a power

 24 of attorney?

 25 A. I don't mean to say that those concerns weren't aired,

 26 but I don't believe they were aired to me.


 28 Q. I'm still focusing on the conveyancing issue. Did

 29 that cause you some consternation?

 30 A. No.


 32 Q. The conveyancing issue didn't?

 33 A. No.


 35 Q. It was the other matters or - I am sorry, did other

 36 matters cause you consternation?

 37 A. Yes.


 39 Q. Did you discuss the conveyancing issue with

 40 Ms Gillard?

 41 A. I don't recall a conversation, but given that

 42 I reached the view that she hadn't done anything wrong,

 43 I must have.


 45 Q. The second matter to which you make reference in

 46 paragraph 3.4 is rumours circulating that some of

 47 Ms Gillard's home renovations had been paid for by the AWU.

 1 Who told you about those rumours?

 2 A. Well, I recall being told of one incident by

 3 Andrew Watson who was a former barrister who had become an

 4 industrial officer of another union. He told me about

 5 a builder turning up at the AWU and asking for payment and

 6 I told Julia about that, but that wasn't the only occasion

 7 to which I'm referring. There were wider rumours. I can't

 8 recall their source at the time, but it wasn't - they were

 9 being discussed more widely than that. It wasn't that much

 10 longer before Phillip Gude raised them in State Parliament.


 12 Q. Were they being discussed among the partnership at

 13 Slater & Gordon?

 14 A. I don't know. I wasn't attending partners' meetings

 15 at the time because of the Harris Smith dispute, but I must

 16 say I presume they were because they were raised with

 17 Gillard in the interview that was transcribed.


 19 Q. Was it a matter that Nick Styant-Browne raised with

 20 you?

 21 A. No.


 23 Q. Just pausing at the top of page 3, the last part of

 24 3.4, you say some of Julia Gillard's home renovations had

 25 been paid for by the AWU. Did you hear rumours to the

 26 effect that funds had come from the incorporated

 27 association to pay for those renovations?

 28 A. No.


 30 Q. It was always the AWU?

 31 A. Yes.


 33 Q. In 3.5 you say:


 35 In my conversations with Julia Gillard at

 36 the time she denied any impropriety in

 37 respect of the ...


 39 And I interpolate here, firstly, the AWU Workplace Reform

 40 Association and secondly, her home renovations?

 41 A. Yes.


 43 Q. So you questioned her, did you, about the Workplace

 44 Reform Association?

 45 A. I don't know whether "questioned her" would be right,

 46 but I had conversations with her about whether she'd done

 47 anything wrong and she assured me she hadn't and I believed

 1 her.


 3 Q. Did you ask her about why she hadn't set up a file,

 4 for example?

 5 A. No, I didn't.


 7 Q. You didn't raise that at all?

 8 A. I don't think so. It is a long time - I can't recall

 9 the conversation.


 11 Q. Did you have conversations with her at the time about

 12 the circumstances in which the Workplace Reform Association

 13 was set up?

 14 A. No.


 16 Q. When you say:


 18 In my conversations with Julia Gillard at

 19 the time she denied any impropriety in

 20 respect of the AWU WRA ...


 22 What was the content of those conversations?

 23 A. I don't recall the content but she was being - she was

 24 being accused of wrongdoing by others within the firm and

 25 I asked her, to the best of my - I asked her what was in it

 26 and she assured me there was nothing in it. I can't recall

 27 the detail of the conversations. I left it, left those

 28 conversations, believing that she'd done nothing wrong.


 30 Q. Did you give consideration to what options were

 31 available to you and the rest of the firm at that time?

 32 A. I don't know what you mean.


 34 Q. Did you consider the option, for example, of advising

 35 the AWU of the concerns that were being expressed by

 36 various persons?

 37 A. I didn't. I was - I left there within several weeks

 38 of this.


 40 Q. You mean you didn't give it consideration or you

 41 didn't inform the AWU?

 42 A. I didn't inform the AWU.


 44 Q. Did you consider that as an option?

 45 A. No.


 47 Q. Did you discuss it? So you didn't discuss it at all

 1 with Ms Gillard or anyone else?

 2 A. No.


 4 Q. You said that Mr Styant-Browne, in your evidence this

 5 morning, had raised concerns about corruption. Did you

 6 have discussions about taking the matter any further with

 7 him or anyone else?

 8 A. No, I didn't. I wasn't attending partners' meetings

 9 at the time.


 11 Q. So is this your evidence: that you had the discussion

 12 to which you make reference with Ms Gillard and she denied

 13 any impropriety and you didn't take the matter any further?

 14 A. That's correct.


 16 Q. In 4.1 you say that you had no involvement whatsoever

 17 in Slater & Gordon's work in 1993 in respect of the

 18 conveyance and that really has developed, in a bit more

 19 detail, the evidence you have given orally this morning.

 20 Can I come down to paragraph 5. You are now dealing with

 21 the advice to Mr Wilson to which you have already made

 22 reference in your evidence. We will need to be careful

 23 here, Justice Murphy, not to travel into privilege matters,

 24 but in 5.3, you say that:


 26 ... Wilson instructed me to act for him in

 27 relation to allegations by Smith that

 28 Wilson had misappropriated union monies.

 29 The allegations related to an account held

 30 at the Commonwealth Bank in Carlton,

 31 Victoria, which was titled, to the best of

 32 my recollection, the AWU Members Welfare

 33 Account. No written retainer agreement was

 34 entered into.


 36 You mean between Slater & Gordon and Mr Wilson?

 37 A. That's correct.


 39 Q. Was your client Mr Wilson or the Victorian Branch of

 40 the AWU?

 41 A. Mr Wilson.


 43 Q. Did he come to you after first seeking advice from

 44 Ms Gillard?

 45 A. I don't know.


 47 Q. In any event, he first approached you in about

 1 mid-July 1995, did he?

 2 A. I've said June/July because I don't recall the exact

 3 date.


 5 Q. Did you keep any notes or anything like that?

 6 A. Yes.


 8 Q. Those, if they were retained at all, would be with

 9 Slater & Gordon?

 10 A. Yes.


 12 Q. In paragraph 5.6 you say that you ceased to act for

 13 Mr Wilson, in respect of the allegations made against him,

 14 immediately following the conference. You are making

 15 reference there to a conference on 8 August 1995?

 16 A. Yes.


 18 Q. Without telling us what they were, he told you certain

 19 things at that conference, did he?

 20 A. Yes.


 22 Q. On 14 August 1995, as you say in 5.8, you sent

 23 a letter to Mr Wilson which set out his instructions with

 24 regard to the 8 August conference and confirmed the firm

 25 would no longer act for him. A list of privileged

 26 documents has been provided to the Commission by Slater &

 27 Gordon and a letter was sent - I can show you the list if

 28 need be, but on 14 August a letter was sent from you to

 29 Mr Wilson headed, "Possible Criminal Prosecution". Is that

 30 the letter to which you make reference?


 32 DR HANSCOMBE: I object to that. That does call for part

 33 of the content of the document. The document is the

 34 subject of a contested claim for privilege.


 36 THE COMMISSIONER: There appears to be some force in that

 37 objection.


 39 MR STOLJAR: I am only talking about the heading. I was

 40 not aware any objection was being raised in respect of the

 41 heading.


 43 DR HANSCOMBE: Commissioner, in my submission, the

 44 heading is part of the document. The document in its

 45 entirety is the subject of the claim for privilege. That

 46 privilege claim is contested in the courts of Victoria and

 47 is yet to be determined.



 2 THE COMMISSIONER: Technically, the privilege protects

 3 communications and the heading may not be a communication,

 4 but doesn't it have a tinge of summary of the contents of

 5 the matter proper?


 7 MR STOLJAR: If it does, Commissioner, in my submission the

 8 ship has sailed. There has been a list of documents that

 9 has been circulated with that heading with, as I understand

 10 it, no objection taken up until now.


 12 THE COMMISSIONER: Do you have that list to hand?


 14 MR STOLJAR: I don't have it to hand. I might have to come

 15 back to it, Commissioner.


 17 THE COMMISSIONER: Yes, it may be necessary.


 19 MR STOLJAR: Q. Yes. I will come at it in a different way

 20 for the time being, Justice Murphy. In paragraph 5.3 you

 21 say that the matters which Mr Wilson raised related to an

 22 account held at the Commonwealth Bank in Carlton titled,

 23 "The AWU Members Welfare Account". Pausing there, this is

 24 a separate issue from the Workplace Reform Association?

 25 A. Yes.


 27 Q. And the allegation, as you understood it, was that

 28 Mr Wilson had misappropriated union moneys. You had your

 29 conference on 8 August, to which you make reference in 5.5,

 30 and then at 5.8, you sent the letter that I referred to

 31 earlier. Don't worry about the title, but you sent

 32 a letter saying that the firm would no longer act for him.

 33 Can I just take you back to 5.6. You say:


 35 I ceased to act for Wilson ... immediately

 36 following the conference.


 38 That is on 8 August. However, you then say: Wilson


 40 Wilson ... requested that I seek

 41 a redundancy payment ...


 43 And you telephoned Mr Cain about that. What was the

 44 position? You were still doing some work for him?

 45 A. I ceased to act for him in relation to the

 46 allegations, but I, at that point, agreed that I would act

 47 for him in relation to seeking the redundancy. 

 2 Q. Were the two connected?


 4 MR HUTLEY: I object. That could call implicitly for

 5 implied privileged information.


 7 THE COMMISSIONER: I am sorry, I didn't quite get that,

 8 Mr Hutley.


 10 MR HUTLEY: That implicitly calls for the disclosure of

 11 privileged information in that form


 13 MR STOLJAR: Yes. I don't press that question,

 14 Commissioner.


 16 Q. Did Mr Wilson give you instructions as to the basis on

 17 which he was seeking a redundancy payment?

 18 A. He said he was leaving.


 20 Q. He was simply leaving?

 21 A. Leaving the union and he wanted a redundancy.


 23 Q. In any event, you then say in 5.7 that a few days

 24 later, you also ceased to act for Mr Wilson in relation to

 25 the redundancy claim?

 26 A. Yes.


 28 Q. Did any further event occur between 8 August and your

 29 ceasing to act for Mr Wilson in the redundancy claim which

 30 gave rise to the latter event?

 31 A. Well, at around the same time that I told Mr Wilson

 32 I wouldn't act for him in relation to the redundancy,

 33 I also informed John Cain that I was no longer acting in

 34 the redundancy. I don't recall the date of that

 35 conversation, but it was in the same time period.


 37 Q. What caused you to change your mind about continuing

 38 to act for Mr Wilson in that limited capacity?

 39 A. I thought I was in a position of conflict.


 41 Q. You mean by that that Mr Wilson's interests and those

 42 of the AWU were in conflict?

 43 A. Yes.


 45 Q. And that precluded your ability to continue to act for

 46 him?

 47 A. Yes.


 2 Q. You communicated to Mr Wilson that the firm would no

 3 longer act for him. You have said that in 5.8?

 4 A. Yes.


 6 Q. Did you give the same communication to the AWU?

 7 A. No, I didn't.


 9 Q. You say in 5.10 that you no longer acted for the AWU

 10 after you ceased acting for Mr Wilson. That was on or

 11 about 14 August, but in fact, as I think you have already

 12 made reference to earlier, you went on leave in about

 13 early September 1995?

 14 A. I did, but effectively we'd already ceased acting for

 15 the AWU because Mr Smith had become the new Secretary of

 16 the new AWU FIME Branch. He instructed other solicitors.

 17 The National Construction Branch was no more because Wilson

 18 was leaving and Blewitt was leaving and Slater & Gordon had

 19 no clients from the AWU.


 21 Q. When you say, "I no longer acted", in 5.10, "after

 22 I ceased acting for Wilson", do you mean by that that you

 23 did not do any work for the AWU in the period 14 August to

 24 early September 1995?

 25 A. I didn't do any further work for the AWU in that

 26 period.


 28 Q. So you made a determination yourself that you wouldn't

 29 act for the AWU, but you didn't communicate that to anyone

 30 at the AWU?

 31 A. No, I didn't.


 33 Q. After the three weeks or so from 14 August through to

 34 early September, you went on leave and the short point is

 35 you never returned to Slater & Gordon?

 36 A. No, I didn't.


 38 MR STOLJAR: I have nothing further. Thank you,

 39 Commissioner.


There's plenty more in MURPHY's cross examination at the TURC here:


How can Murphy get away with his sworn evidence that he only found out about the AWU WRA Inc after he ceased to act for Wilson when in his own notes he says it was Wilson who told him - in the course of receiving legal advice from Hinkley QC?