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Corruption in High Places

The Key Witness in the Justice Murphy Scandal Gives His Side of the Story

Clarrie Briese Angela Karpin

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01 March 2021
This is a remarkable account of corruption in the courts in the 1980s and how it was thwarted and finally exposed by the testimony of Clarrie Briese, NSW Chief Magistrate, supported by that of District Court Judge Paul Flannery.

Briese provides a detailed analysis of how High Court Justice Lionel Murphy and District Court Judge John Foord approached him and Flannery with a view to perverting the course of justice in relation to criminal charges against Murphy’s friend, solicitor Morgan Ryan.

His stance has never wavered, despite vigorous attacks by people in their public defence of Murphy, such as NSW Premier Wran and Malcolm Turnbull.

This account reveals fresh evidence which shows that the tentacles of corruption extended to the very top, reaching Wran himself.


"At a time when the current NSW Government is strangulating ICAC and both political parties are paying lip service to the idea of creating a federal ICAC, but hastening in that direction at glacial speed, historical events like the Murphy Affair should be alerting us all to the dangers of assuming that popular and respected public figures are somehow beyond the temptation of malfeasance."
RICHARD WALSH, Consultant Publisher, Allen & Unwin

"Fascinating and difficult to put down … should be read by every politician, lawyer, judicial officer and police officer as well as the general public. I found the casual acceptance of corrupt activity … particularly frightening."
IAN PIKE, former NSW Chief Magistrate

"Briese’s book forensically exposes the corruption of the judiciary … [he] raises new evidence and serious questions. His brilliant legal mind, his analysis without spleen or rancour, his courage, and tenacity shine through."
JOHN HATTON, former independent NSW MP and corruption campaigner

"The exposition by the NSW Chief Magistrate of the struggles — and sometimes scandals — in the years of change in the state’s court system make fascinating reading … Mr Briese writes clearly, with extraordinary depth and precision … strengthened by the authority that comes from long years at the head of the largest magistracy of all the Australian States."
JOHN SLEE, former legal correspondent, The Sydney Morning Herald

"Remarkable, immensely valuable … deserving of the widest public discussion."
ANGELA KARPIN, former NSW District Court Judge

"An enjoyable and compelling history of crime and politics in Sydney in the 1970s–80s."
STEPHEN WALMSLEY, former NSW District Court Judge

"Powerful … a tour de force"
KEVIN ANDERSON, former NSW Deputy Chief Magistrate
By:   Clarrie Briese
Foreword by:   Angela Karpin
Country of Publication:   Australia
ISBN:   9780645010404
ISBN 10:   0645010405
Publication Date:   01 March 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Clarrie Briese was appointed Chairman of the Bench of Stipendiary Magistrates of NSW in 1979, then with the commencement of the Local Courts Act 1982 (NSW) on 1 January 1985 he became Chief Magistrate. Upon retiring from this position in 1990, he was appointed Commissioner of the NSW Crime Commission, where he remained for six years. Apart from his nationally prominent role in the Murphy affair in the 1980s, Briese is best known for his tireless work in achieving judicial independence for magistrates through the passing of the Local Courts Act. In 2002, in recognition of his reforming work, in particular the matter of judicial independence, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.

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