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June 01, 2010
WA POLICE have been forced to quash a prohibition order against veteran Coffin Cheater bikie Eddy Withnell after a Supreme Court appeal today - effectively allowing him back into licensed venues.
In an embarrassing move just days after the Cameron Mansell arrest warrant bungle, police were today forced to concede that they had incorrectly classified confidential police information, which formed part of the application and had been kept secret from Mr Withnell.
Detective Superintendent Jim Migro, chief of the Licensing Enforcement Division, said police had received legal advice that some of the material presented to the Liquor Commission as confidential police information should have been classified as unrestricted information and made available to Mr Withnell and his legal advisers.
``This is not a clerical error, this is about interpretation of new legislation which is complex and because of new advice from the State Solicitors' Office, we've agreed to a request for the prohibition order to be quashed and we will be submitting a new application to the Director of Racing, Gaming and Liquor,'' Det-Supt Migro said.
``I don't necessarily agree that we've made an error, it's just that there's been an incorrect classification.
``The issue here is the classification of the material, not the substance of it.''
In November last year, the WA Liquor
Commission approved a prohibition order for Mr Withnell, banning him from
entering or working in nightclubs and licensed restaurants, including his
Northbridge strip club the Voodoo Lounge, for five years.
Police are now working on a fresh prohibition order application banning Mr Withnell from visiting or working in licensed premises.
Under Section 30(1) of the Liquor Control
Act material classified as confidential police information is not made
available to the respondent or their legal representatives. This provision
is designed to protect police intelligence holdings.
Today, the WA Supreme Court heard that Mr Withnell should be awarded costs, although the amount has not yet been determined.
``We will lodge a fresh application as soon as possible which will essentially contain the same information as the first application, but will allow Mr Withnell greater access to the material relied upon in the first application,'' Det-Supt Migro said after the hearing.
Mr Withnell said the case was a victory for West Australians but showed that secret information could not be trusted.
``This should be ringing alarm bells across this state,'' he said.
Mr Withnell said if police lodged another application against him he would take it to the High Court and possibly sue for damages in the civil courts for the loss of his livelihood as he had to sell interests in the Voodoo Lounge.
He said he was considering dinner at Miss Mauds tonight, a pastime he had been prevented from enjoying since being the subject of the prohibition order.
``They have a beautiful smorgasbord there,'' he said.
Det-Supt Migro said police would also review other prohibition orders to determine if there were any discrepancies in the classification and disclosure of confidential police information.
More than 20 prohibition orders have been granted in WA, with another 100 applications under consideration or now being prepared.