Posted on 21 Aug 2012
Whilst it is understandable that there is great media interest in the details of discussions between former partners of Slater and Gordon and a former employee, we thought it would be helpful for the public to understand the need for legal practitioners to be cautious in relation to the release of such information particularly when it concerns the confidential information of their former clients.
The implied criticism of Slater and Gordon to the effect that it should release more information misunderstands the obligations of legal practitioners in relation to confidential communications with clients.
The release of confidential communications subject to legal professional privilege is a serious breach of a legal practitioners obligations.
On Sunday I gave a clear statement of what I understand to be the facts concerning the resignation of Prime Minister Gillard from Slater and Gordon some 17 years ago based upon the records that we presently hold.
Although I have sought to obtain the transcript of interview referred to by the Australian on Saturday 18 August 2012, I have not been provided with it by Mr Styant-Browne. I am therefore not in a position to comment on its authenticity or contents, even if my obligations of confidentiality to former staff permitted me to do so.
There is in fact no inconsistency of substance between Mr Styant-Browne’s reported version of events and the facts outlined in the statement already provided by me, or the draft working document provided in confidence to Mr Styant-Browne by Mr Gordon and subsequently provided to the Australian without Mr Gordon’s knowledge or consent by Mr Styant-Browne. Whilst there is a great deal of conjecture and commentary now in the public domain none of it contradicts directly or otherwise the factual account set out in my statement or for that matter the draft working document published in the Australian and Mr Styant-Browne’s own version of events. In particular to my knowledge no one has advanced any credible evidence that there is now any more substance to the allegation first made 17 years ago and denied by Ms Gillard at the time and since that she was in any way aware of or a knowing participant in any wrong doing concerning what has become known as the Wilson/AWU case.
It is regrettable that Mr Styant-Browne has seen fit to release confidential communications. Slater and Gordon has said all that it currently can say based on its own records and subject to its obligations to former staff and former clients. We therefore do not intend to make any further statement unless and until new information comes to light which we are permitted or required to place in the public domain.
SLATER AND GORDON LAWYERS