Judge angers Fingleton team

QUEENSLAND'S Chief Justice, four senior judges, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Solicitor-General, several defence barristers and the Beattie Government have all been criticised in the wake of the High Court's exoneration of former chief magistrate Di Fingleton.
As recriminations flowed from all sides yesterday, Chief Justice Paul De Jersey insisted Ms Fingleton's lawyers failed to raise the crucial point of law -- her immunity from criminal prosecution for administrative acts -- that would have prevented her serving six months in jail for threatening another magistrate.
While Ms Fingleton would not comment, her legal supporters were outraged that Justice de Jersey had admitted he was aware of the immunity under Section 21A of the Magistrate's Act, but did nothing about it.
``The Chief Justice cannot just stand there and make an admission of that type with impunity,'' said one supporter, who asked not to be identified.
``What if we lived in a regime of capital punishment? Would he still maintain his silence if a person was sentenced to hang?
``And in this case, are we to accept that the Chief Justice in Queensland allowed a fellow judicial officer to be sent to jail knowing all the while that there was legislation precluding a prosecution of that person?
``It is beyond belief that any legal person, let alone one so senior as the Chief Justice, could make such an admission -- and expect anybody in Queensland to believe that there was indeed justice in this State.''
Ms Fingleton's former lawyers, which include current Solicitor-General Walter Sofronoff, QC, declined to comment on the judge's claims.
The judges involved in the case also would not be drawn on the High Court decision.
Ms Fingleton on Thursday demanded her old job back but was immediately rebuffed by Attorney-General Rod Welford and acting Premier Terry Mackenroth. New chief magistrate Marshall Irwin declined to comment on the case yesterday, but indicated the courts were running smoothly under his administration.
``The response to that (High Court decision) is, properly, a matter for executive government,'' Mr Marshall said from overseas, where he is on leave.
``As far as I'm aware, and I'd expect, that for the magistrates court it would be business as usual.''
Former federal Labor leader and governor-general Bill Hayden said Ms Fingleton, whom he considered a friend, was a victim of injustice and a succession of legal incompetencies.
While many legal observers expect Ms Fingleton to stake a multi-million-dollar damages claim, Mr Hayden said no amount of money could make up for being branded ``a prisoner, a jailbird, a convict,'' particularly when Ms Fingleton had only asked to be reinstated.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg demanded the Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare, be sacked, but Mr Welford said the call was predictable and unwarranted.