AFP Media Release
29 Aug 2002

Sunday Program continues with People Smuggling Allegations

One week ago the Australian Federal Police (AFP) released the findings of its investigation into allegations made by Sunday in relation to Australian citizen Kevin John Enniss. Sunday claimed that Enniss was a people smuggler who, while providing information to the AFP, had successfully landed unlawful non-citizens into Australia without the AFPís knowledge.

The AFP also announced last week that there were actions by Sunday which were cause of concern and despite attempts to resolve these matters the AFP was left with no alternative but to take them to the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) by way of formal complaint.

Last Saturday the Nine Network issued a media release describing the AFP investigation as a 'disgraceful cover up', a 'blatant attempt to pre-empt a forthcoming Sunday broadcast' and a 'grubby operation on foreign soil'. The statement repeatedly accused the AFP of lying.

It has been clear from the moment that Sunday broadcast its initial allegations that it was unlikely to be satisfied with the AFP investigation. For this reason the AFP made every endeavour to ensure the integrity of its investigation including drawing the investigation team from members who had no previous involvement in the matter and arranging for the investigation to be oversighted and reviewed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Ombudsman subsequently signed off on the AFP report into this matter. The AFP investigation revealed what we think are highly questionable practices adopted by Sunday.

The AFP wrote to the Nine Network on 28 June and again on 13 August requesting a meeting to discuss issues of concern. The AFP has never received a response to either letter.

Just one week after the media release by Sunday, which also suggested that the AFP went to the ABA in an attempt to pre-empt a forthcoming program, Sunday has contacted the AFP requesting answers to 37 questions for a program to air in the near future. The reality is the AFP is accountable to the community through the courts and the Parliament and we are subject to a stringent complaints regime oversighted by the Ombudsman. Having nowhere else to go, to resolve our own concerns about Sunday, given the refusal by the Nine Network solicitors to respond to our correspondence, the AFP was forced to go to the ABA. Therefore, the suggestion that the lodgement of a complaint with the ABA is an attempt to pre-empt any program, regardless of when it is screened is a nonsense. Using its own programs to resolve claims and counter claims, is not a way forward and the AFP will not respond to Sunday's questions.

The facts in this matter, in our view, are clear:

  • Sunday made a series of allegations and challenged the AFP to investigate them;
  • The AFP conducted an investigation which has so far cost the Australian tax payer $150,000;
  • This investigation was the subject of independent review by the Commonwealth Ombudsman;
  • The investigation found no evidence to support the claims by Sunday;
  • In summary, the investigation did find that Sunday interfered with witnesses and on at least one occasion, attempted to place a listening device on the witness apparently in contravention of Indonesian law.

    It is no coincidence in the AFPís view, that Sundayís comments against the AFP and several of its staff, followed the decision by the AFP to publicly reveal that the AFP paid Mr Enniss $25,000 over several months which successfully prevented 421 people illegally reaching Australia at an estimated saving to the tax payer of some $20m.

    It is also no coincidence, in the AFP's view, that Sunday's offer to cooperate with the AFP investigation came to an abrupt end when the AFP investigation revealed that Sunday had paid witnesses for what are now known to be false stories. Sunday itself made this concession on 12 May 2002 when it reluctantly retracted that aspect of the original claims although informed of these issues on or about 9 April 2002.

    The AFP stands by its statements in relation to questions raised in the Parliament and elsewhere about our role in combating criminal syndicates involved in people smuggling.

    The AFP supports balanced and where appropriate critical reporting and analysis by the Media. Partisan and inflammatory reporting by Sunday simply clouds what is a complex and difficult issue.

    Media contact: Steve Jiggins, AFP Media, 0411 132 761

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