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Australian Federal Minister regrets raid on Seven over Corby Deal ..


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SEVEN’S commercial director Bruce McWilliam says a senior Abbott government minister regretted the raid at his network this morning over a Schapelle Corby deal.He is furious more than 20 Australian Federal Police officers barged into the offices of Channel Seven at Pyrmont and New Idea to examine their paperwork and correspondence with the Corby family.

“The federal police have executed a search warrant of Channel 7. They barged in wanting to look at the payment registers which is completely outrageous,’’ he said. “It’s a big attack on the press. It’s terrible what’s happening. “It’s a gross overreaction. The government has called to say they did not know this was happening.” Company chief executive Tim Worner said he was surprised by the raids, given that the company had “fully cooperated with requests” for information.

Mr Worner revealed that the company’s lawyers were also raided today, as well as its television headquarters in Sydney’s Pyrmont, its magazine office in Eveleigh and the separate premises occupied by its Sunday Night program.

“The AFP has previously asked for information on Schapelle Corby and any contract we may have entered into, and we provided all the information requested from us and instructed our lawyers to provide any additional information they might have,” Mr Worner said in a statement.

“The AFP did not seem to accept that we have not reached an agreement or understanding with Schapelle Corby. “We want to emphasise that at all times we have fully co-operated with the AFP in this matter. Speaking later outside Seven’s offices in Pyrmont, in Sydney, Mr McWilliam said the government member was told of a “falsehood’’ concerning the raids. “I did speak to someone in government and they didn’t know this raid was occurring,’’ he said. “When they went back and checked they were told what I believe to be a falsehood, that we weren’t co-operating (with police), which is completely untrue,” he said.

Mr McWilliam said Seven had been complying with a notice to produce documents relating to their negotiations with Corby, which was served on them a week ago, and today’s raids were taking place on a “false basis” as a result. “We’ve been asked for the documents and we’re providing them,” he said. “I do think it’s laughable because we gave the material over in relation to the production order ... So I think it’s high-handed and unnecessary.” AFP officers had told him they intended to spend up to 24 hours at Seven’s offices, Mr McWilliam said, and had most recently been going through his domestic conveyance files.

Channel Seven was asked to hand over documents last week after being served a Proceeds of Crime production order, which Mr McWilliam says they fully co-operated with. “Full compliance has occurred. Documents were handed over immediately,’’ Mr McWilliam told The Australian. “You’ve got some heavy-handed goon who thinks they can just come storming in and terrorise people who are trying to carry on their duties. “They spent hours of (time and) taxpayers’ money going through a file about all the interactions last year, the media amendments which never happened. “We’ve given them everything we have. We don’t think it was what they were expecting to see, so they think we’re not cooperating with the order.”

“It appears police have incorrectly said that Channel 7 was not cooperating with the production order which was served last week.

“That is completely untrue because full compliance has occurred. Documents were handed over immediately and where documents were being sought.” The federal government had been advised this morning that the AFP had executed search warrants, attorney-general Senator George Brandis said. “The decision was made independently of government,” he said. “As this investigation is ongoing, it is not appropriate to comment further.” Mr McWilliam said Seven’s offer for the exclusive Schapelle Corby interview was well under $1 million — not the $2 million reported.

“The sad thing is that they think there is a $3 million (deal) which sadly there isn’t.” “It probably falls far short of what someone in the federal police imagines it should say. It’s a very small figure.” Mr McWilliam said the AFP also stormed the office of New Idea editor Kim Wilson. “Poor Kim Wilson, the editor of New Idea, had all her fabric samples pushed aside while they sought evidence of criminal offences in her office,’’ he said. “It was completely crazy. They’ve gone through all my domestic conveyance files.”

The million dollar deal was to secure Corby’s first interview since the convicted drug smuggler was released from a Bali jail last week.

The deal was said to include an interview with its Sunday Night program and in its weekly magazine New Idea. Officers are also said to have raided Seven’s Martin Place offices and its Eveleigh building, where New Idea is based. Insiders earlier said it was “bloody chaos” inside Seven Network’s Sydney headquarters this morning during the raid. Seven reporter Damien Smith became embroiled in a feisty argument with AFP officers when he began filming the raid. “Damien Smith almost got arrested. He went in with the cameras while it was all happening and AFP said you need to move the cameras but Bruce McWilliam said they should be allowed to film,’’ a source said.

“There was a lot of argy bargy about whether filming it is in contravention of the search warrant. “The AFP said by filming it you could be causing a distraction to our officers while they’re trying to conduct a search warrant.” The AFP confirmed a raid was taking place.

“The AFP can confirm it has executed a number of search warrants in Sydney in relation to an ongoing Proceeds of Crime Act matter,” a spokeswoman said. “As this matter is ongoing, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment any further.” News of the raid was broken this morning on Seven’s The Morning Show by reporter Damien Smith, who said it was “pretty tense times here”.

“We understand that the search warrant is in relation to a possible proceeds of crime investigation that the AFP is carrying out into dealings between Schapelle Corby and the Sunday Night program,” Mr Smith said. He said it was “no secret that Sunday Night has been the front runner in seeking rights to get an exclusive interview with Schapelle Corby following her nine years in jail”. “This search warrant has come at a time when it’s a very delicate situation. The Indonesian officials are telling Schapelle that ‘you do an interview and you could very well go back to jail’,” Mr Smith said. “We have heard that the AFP may well be here for the next 24 hours. A very complex investigation.”

Australian laws prohibiting criminals profiting from their crimes have cast doubt on whether Corby would be allowed to receive payment from selling her story. A source said Seven’s commercial director Bruce McWilliam had called the federal Attorney-General George Brandis demanding answers. “The AFP is just trying to actually get to the bottom of whether money has actually passed hands,” a Seven source said. AFP officers had to ask sport producers at Pyrmont where the office of Sunday Night’s executive producer Mark Llewellyn was located, a source said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull have both cautioned Corby against giving an interview.

“The old principle is crime should not pay,’’ Mr Abbott said in a radio interview last week. Indonesian Deputy Justice Minister Denny Indrayana has also warned Corby that a tell-all could be a breach of her parole and send her back to jail.

Source : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/media/federal-minister-regrets-raid-on-seven-over-corby-deal/story-e6frg996-1226830302172

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