Defence dept behind quashing of war crimes whistleblower David McBride legal defence

Henri Scott

July 9, 2023

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Original Source: News.com.au, Courtney Gould

Fresh details about why a war crimes whistleblower had his legal quashed have been revealed.

Fresh details about why a former military lawyer who exposed alleged war crimes in Afghanistan will be sent to trial have been revealed in a parliamentary hearing.

Lawyers for David McBride withdrew an application to have him protected under whistleblowers laws after the Commonwealth made a public interest immunity claim over parts of his evidence last month.

The commonwealth claim was made on the grounds that the evidence would have been detrimental to national security if it was released.

It prevented Mr McBride from using the evidence of two experts he was relying on to seek immunity from criminal liability under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

David McBride will face court next year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Australian Government Solicitor Michael Kingston revealed in Senate estimates on Monday that the Department of Defence was behind the claim.

He told the parliamentary committee the department first made the claim in June 2021 but correspondence identifying eight documents on 18 October 2022 qualified the claim.

Mr McBride shared information with journalists that in 2017 lifted the lid on alleged war crimes committed by Australians deployed in Afghanistan.

The resulting Brereton inquiry found credible evidence to support the allegations, including that 39 Afghan civilians were killed by Australian special forces.

Mr McBride has been charged with five offences include the unauthorised disclosure of information, theft of commonwealth property and three counts of breaching the Defence Act. He has pleaded not guilty.

He will face a criminal trial next year.

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Written By Henri Scott

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