Career dogged by controversy

THE career of Queensland's most senior prosecutor, Leanne Clare, has been littered with controversy and accusations that she is not up to the job of Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Beattie Government thinks differently, having just last month reappointed Ms Clare, 44, to another three-year term. As well, her peers hold her in high regard, elevating her just weeks ago to senior counsel.
Ms Clare began her career in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in 1982 and graduated with a law degree in 1984. She became a barrister and joined the DPP's office the following year. From 1986 to 1989 she was with the Child Abuse Unit, before taking a job as a crown prosecutor.
She has been an acting District Court judge and became Director of Public Prosecutions in July 2000.
Her appointment coincided with the rise of several women to senior judicial positions. The Opposition accused then Attorney-General Matt Foley of making ``politically correct'' appointments -- an accusation he denied.
Ms Clare attracted national attention in the wake of three controversial issues: the conviction and jailing of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, the conviction and jailing of chief magistrate Di Fingleton, and her decision not to prosecute national swim coach Scott Volkers, who was accused of child sexual abuse.
The High Court quashed the conviction of Ms Fingleton on the charge of retaliating against a witness, ruling she should never have been charged because she had immunity under the Magistrates Act.
The Court of Appeal also overturned the conviction on Ms Hanson.
In April 2003 the Crime and Misconduct Commission found the handling of the Volkers case had been ``justly criticised''.
Ms Clare's announcement on Thursday that she would not be charging Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley with any offences over the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee has drawn strong criticism. Aboriginal lawyer Noel Pearson said it was a decision ``that has probably kept every indigenous person in this state restless with visceral anger and despair at the state of the justice system here in Queensland''.
But state and federal politicians insisted that while her decision may have differed from that of Deputy Coroner Christine Clements, her independence should not be questioned by government.
A spokesman for Ms Clare said she would not comment. Mr Foley also declined to comment.