Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Selling Secrets

Derek Winthrop telephoned Daniel Soames in his Chambers and said briefly, “I have a rather delicate matter I would like to discuss with you, with a view to briefing you in it. Are you available for me to come and see you about it today? In fact I would prefer to see you immediately, if possible. It is not really something I can discuss with you in detail over the telephone.”

Daniel said “Yes I am available and I can see you immediately.”
“Thank you, I will see you in your Chambers in fifteen (15) minutes and I will bring the client with me.”

Just as he suggested within about fifteen (15) minutes Derek arrived at Daniel’s Chambers with his client, Mr Zurich Lindisfarne. Upon greeting Daniel, Derek said “Perhaps it would be best if I saw you alone initially and then you can have a conference with the client.”

“As you wish Mr Winthrop” Daniel responded.

“My client, Mr Zurich Lindisfarne, consulted me earlier this morning and informed me that he had been charged with what amounts to selling state secrets.  In a few days time he is required to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in answer to that charge. As you may be aware, prosecutions of matters such as this are attendant with great security, in fact almost secrecy and there is very little material available for me to consider and advise my client at this juncture. I am aware that we have discussed this type of prosecution in the past and that we are both reasonably familiar with what is involved. I have obtained from the Crown a very brief summary of the allegations made against our client and I can provide that summary to you now. Other than that, there is very little other information I can share with you in order to assist you in providing Mr Lindisfarne any advice in respect of this matter.”

Daniel said “Thank you Mr Winthrop, might l have a look at that summary now?”
As Daniel was asking that question, Derek Winthrop was already providing the summary to him from his file.

After reading the summary provided to him Daniel said to Mr Winthrop, “Five paragraphs that barely make a page is indeed a brief summary of facts. Nevertheless, based on what is provided here, there seems little room for our client to defend this charge.”

“That was also my impression.” Derek Winthrop replied.

Daniel continued “He works for ASIO so surely in the position of trust in which Mr Lindisfarne found himself, he should have known better than to disclose this information, let alone sell it? Is he in financial trouble? Does he have a gambling problem? Does he have a demanding mistress? Are any of the usual explanations in play here? Or is this just a case of pure unadulterated greed? Mr Winthrop has Mr Lindisfarne shared any of this with you or have you chosen not to discuss that aspect of the case with him thus far?”

“It seems greed and stupidity were the primary motivating forces here, Mr Soames. However I have not canvassed that aspect of the case in any great detail with Mr Lindisfarne thus far.  I thought it was more important to confer with you as to how we should proceed. I have advised him that he is in a very serious situation and if he is convicted of the offence, he should definitely expect to go to jail.  Other than that information, I said to him in my view it would be better to have a conference with you and we could work out a plan of attack during that conference. Perhaps I should inform you at this stage, there is definitely no issue as to our fees. They have definitely been covered,” Mr Winthrop said.

Daniel then said to Mr Winthrop, “All right then, perhaps we better bring Mr Lindisfarne in and have a chat with him about all of this.”

Without delay Derek Winthrop left the Chambers of Daniel Soames, went outside to the waiting area and returned with Mr Lindisfarne.

Conference with Mr Lindisfarne
Whilst their introductions were brief, Daniel could see that Mr Lindisfarne was clearly a very worried man. Almost immediately upon Mr Lindisfarne taking his seat Daniel said to him, “From what Mr Winthrop tells me, you are a man in a very serious situation. At this juncture I do not propose to get any great detail from you as to your version of the facts. I would prefer to concentrate on learning as much as I can about the Crown case, to see how bad it is for you and whether there is any prospect of you successfully defending the charge. Mr Winthrop has provided me with some material thus far and although that information is brief, it does not suggest any defence available to you or any real likelihood of you being found not guilty of the offence.”

Daniel was looking at Mr Lindisfarne as he was speaking to him and it occurred to Daniel that his client did not appear surprised by anything that was being said to him.

“In the ordinary course of our business, when Mr Winthrop or one of his colleagues brings a client to me who is confronting a Crown case that appears to be as strong as the one that apparently confronts you, we generally discuss what can be done to minimise the sentence that is likely to be imposed once the accused is convicted of the offence. Entering a plea of guilty to the charge is usually a useful approach in those circumstances, because it can be said to indicate remorse, contrition and cooperation. The legislation courts must follow when sentencing offenders convicted of crimes indicates clearly that discounts generally apply upon pleas of guilty in those circumstances. In some circumstances it can mean a significant reduction in the jail sentence likely to be imposed by the court. It can even mean the difference between an accused going to jail or staying out of jail. You probably want to know what punishment is likely to be imposed upon you if you are convicted of this offence.”

Mr Lindisfarne looked terrified and simply nodded his head.

“Well Mr Lindisfarne, given the offence with which you are charged and the nature of the information you are alleged to have sold, I do not believe there is any doubt you will go to jail upon being convicted of this offence. Your jail sentence will be significant. Three (3) to five (5) years actual custody is unlikely to be said to be excessive in these circumstances in my view.”

Daniel was looking at Mr Lindisfarne during the conversation, but he also noticed Mr Winthrop when he spoke of the actual jail sentence and Mr Winthrop seemed to nod his head in agreement with Daniel. Daniel then asked Mr Winthrop, “Would you agree with that assessment of the sentence Mr Winthrop?”

“Yes I think that is an accurate assessment of the sentence likely to be imposed”, Mr Winthrop replied.

Mr Lindisfarne was silent and apparently processing the information that was being provided to him. He did not appear to challenge any of the information.  Rather he appeared to be a man coming to the realisation that he was in an enormous amount of trouble and it was all of his own making.

Daniel continued, “Sadly Mr Lindisfarne your troubles appear not to end there. The information you sold is extremely delicate and there will be some people in this community very unhappy about the misuse of that information. I suspect your time in prison will not be pleasant. I expect there will be people who will wish to introduce you to their own form of justice and that is not a threat against which even the protection yard at the prison can guarantee you real comfort. Raising that reality with the judge on sentence is not likely to relieve you of having to serve an actual jail sentence, such is the nature of the offence with which you have been charged.

Unfortunately you have messed with some very bad people and ultimately the criminal justice system may not be your biggest problem. I am happy to do what I can to help you, but the help that both Mr Winthrop and I can offer you has its limits unfortunately. Of course you are free to seek advice elsewhere, but I doubt that anyone being honest with you will give you advice different to the advice you have heard here today.”

As Daniel said that to Mr Lindisfarne he noticed Mr Winthrop nodding and when Daniel finished speaking, Mr Winthrop added, “I agree.”

“If you like Mr Lindisfarne, Mr Winthrop and I can make enquiries of the Crown to see what the present thoughts of the prosecution are in terms of sentencing you for this offence.”

Mr Lindisfarne then said to Daniel “Yes please.”

Daniel then said to Mr Lindisfarne, “There is really no more I need from you at this stage. We can discuss the matter further once we have heard more from the Crown. If you do not mind, I will have a short chat with Mr Winthrop in your absence and then the two of you can return to his office.”

Mr Lindisfarne then got up out of his chair shook hands with Daniel.  As he did so he said, “Thank you for your advice and for seeing me at short notice. I really appreciate it.” He then went back outside Daniel's Chambers to the waiting area.

As Mr Lindisfarne was walking out of Daniel’s Chambers, Mr Winthrop said to him, “I will be out with you shortly and we will then return to my office.” Mr Lindisfarne nodded and continued to the waiting area.

Shortly after the door closed from Mr Lindisfarne walking out of Daniel’s Chambers, Daniel said to Mr Winthrop, “Your client seemed to confirm my worst fears about this case.”

Derek replied, “I agree, he has not filled me with much confidence or given me much comfort about his future.”

Daniel added, “Quite frankly Mr Winthrop, I doubt that the criminal law is his biggest problem. Given what he has done and that he has now been publicly identified or at least sufficiently publicly identified in doing it, his greatest fear would seem to be that someone will want to kill him.”

“I agree Mr Soames. In fact there is no guarantee he will make it to trial and there would seem to be little if anything we can do to stop that occurring. I had better take Mr Lindisfarne back to my office. Thank you for your time and assistance today Mr Soames. I will keep you informed of any developments.”

“Thank you Mr Winthrop. It was a pleasure, as always.”

Two Days Later
About two days after the conference Derek Winthrop telephoned Daniel Soames, “My wife and the wife of our client Mr Zurich Lindisfarne are friends. That was a reason he initially consulted me. Mrs Lindisfarne telephoned my wife earlier today to advise that Mr Zurich Lindisfarne died last night. It was not suicide and apparently there are no suspicious circumstances.”

“I guess ‘no suspicious circumstances’ is a relative term Mr Winthrop.” Soames interjected.

“Indeed Soames and I do not suspect the authorities will be at all interested in investigating his ‘not controversial’ death. The ‘problem’ of Mr Zurich Lindisfarne appears now to have been solved and a criminal trial will not be necessary. Other than that I do not have any further information for you at this time. As other news comes to hand I will keep you informed.”

“Thank you Mr Winthrop. Perhaps you might pass on my regards and condolences to Mrs Winthrop and Mrs Lindisfarne.” Daniel Soames said.

“Certainly Mr Soames. I will talk to you again soon. Good morning.”  Derek Winthrop then hung up the telephone and he and Daniel Soames returned to other work.