Former Australian police media director Stephen Linnell's perjury conviction quashed

Friday, June 18, 2010

County Court Judge Barbera Cottrell overturned earlier perjury convictions against Stephen Linnell, former media director of Victoria Police.

A Melbourne magistrate accepted Linnell's guilty plea to three charges of perjury to the state of Victoria's Office of Police Integrity (OPI) in 2008. Linnell was sentenced to eight months in a corrective facility, suspension from the police department, and fined AS$5,000.

The Victorian Supreme Court eventually ruled the OPI hearings were invalid, leading to the dismissal of similar cases against superior members of the police department, including former Assistant Police Commissioner Noel Ashby and former union chief Paul Mullett. Linnell then appealed the judgment against him, heard very briefly before Judge Cottrell.

"I'm obviously pleased with today's decision," Linnell said in a statement. "As you can imagine, it has been a difficult time for me."

The investigation into Linnell, led by the OPI, came about over allegations of information leaks compromising critical operation of murder investigations. Legal technicalities — such as the former head of the OPI investigation being unable to administer legal oaths — resulted in the gathered evidence being inadmissible.