The Honourable JLB Allsop AO
Federal Court of Australia
Dear Chief Justice,
MURPHY, Bernard Michael - apparent misconduct as a solicitor - fitness to sit as a Judge
From 1986 to August 1995 MURPHY was a partner in the law firm Slater and Gordon.
Slater and Gordon acted for the Australian Workers' Union Victoria branch from 1988/89 until MURPHY's departure from the firm in August 1995.
In 1995 MURPHY was the firm's senior partner and head of its industrial relations practice. He was a fiduciary to the Australian Workers' Union.
In June/July 1995 an official of the AWU, Bruce Morton WILSON was accused by other officials of misappropriating AWU money and of corruptly soliciting and receiving secret commissions from employers.
MURPHY accepted WILSON's instructions as a personal client in the matter of a potential criminal prosecution notwithstanding the potential conflict between the interests of his long-standing client the AWU and WILSON who stood accused of stealing from it.
In June/July 1995 MURPHY opened Slater and Gordon file number 956276 "WILSON, Bruce - Bank Accounts".
On 15 May 2013 Victoria Police seized the file while executing a Search Warrant on Slater and Gordon.
WILSON claimed client legal professional privilege over the communications within the file. Police opposed WILSON'S claim.
On 9 December 2013 Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen sitting as a Court found the documents within the file were prepared in the furtherance of fraud, an offence or abuse of power and subject to Section 125 of the Victorian Evidence Act were not protected by privilege.
WILSON appealed to the Supreme Court where Consent Orders were made to release the file "WILSON, Bruce - Bank Accounts" file number 956276 into the custody of police for use in the prosecution of the offences stipulated in the May 2013 Search Warrant.
Victoria Police forwarded their evidentiary files to Western Australia Police some time ago, including the WILSON Bank Accounts file.
On Saturday 7 October 2017 The Australian newspaper published a front page report "Gillard lover Bruce Wilson told lawyer of fraud". The report published much of the contents of the file.
I have been given a copy of the file and I attach it to this note.
MURPHY was already a fiduciary to the AWU at the commencement of taking instructions from the natural person Bruce WILSON.
In the file, MURPHY records WILSON'S confession to misappropriating money which was rightfully the property of the AWU. He admits to soliciting and receiving secret commissions from large construction companies. WILSON disclosed to MURPHY that MURPHY's firm had acted in the unlawful incorporation of an incorporated association which was used to misappropriate money. WILSON disclosed that misappropriated money had been laundered through the Slater and Gordon Trust Account and in the purchase of real property at 85 Kerr Street Fitzroy.
MURPHY's hand written notes are unequivocal. MURPHY records WILSON's admissions as at 8/9 August 1995, including admissions about the incorporated association made to both MURPHY and Hinkley of Counsel in conference on 9 August.
MURPHY did nothing to inform his client the AWU that its employee had admitted to stealing its property.
MURPHY was aware that tainted monies had been laundered through the Slater and Gordon Trust Account and converted into real property at Kerr Street, the house in which WILSON was then living. MURPHY did nothing to protect his client the AWU's interest in the property.
MURPHY's actions assisted WILSON to leave the AWU with a "no further investigation" implied safeguard upon him tendering his resignation.
The AWU was put to considerable expensive and time-consuming investigations and enquiries over the next 8 months in an attempt to discover the extent of WILSON's defalcations - facts which were known to MURPHY as a result of WILSON'sconfessions.
The AWU would not become aware of the incorporated association and its bank accounts until April 1996 when through its own efforts it secured the assistance of the Commonwealth Bank which provided it with statements and other documents.
During those 8 months WILSON sold the Kerr Street property - and the cash vanished.
On 9 September 2014 MURPHY gave sworn evidence to the Trade Union Royal Commission. He gave oral and sworn statement evidence that he became aware of the incorporated association (the AWU Workplace Reform Association) only after her had ceased to act for WILSON. That evidence was wholly unsatisfactory and misleading. In his own notes he records WILSONtelling all about the entity during conference with Hinkley of Counsel.
MURPHY's actions resulted in the continuation and completion of WILSON's offending.
He owed his client the AWU a fiduciary responsibility in the face of evidence that one of its employees was misappropriating its money. But rather than advise the AWU of WILSON's admissions, MURPHY concealed the information. In so doing he advanced the interests of his own firm and partner GILLARD (MURPHY notes in his own handwriting that the firm was involved - he says unknowingly - in criminal misconduct) to the detriment of justice and his client the AWU.
Perhaps Your Honour might be so good as to advise me and my readers what steps the Federal Court of Australia proposes to take in light of the emergence of MURPHY's WILSON file.
I propose to treat this as an open communication and to publish this note and your response.