The principles of natural justice are based on three core rules.
The hearing rule provides the right to a fair hearing. When conducting an investigation, it is important that the person being complained against is advised of the allegations in as much detail as possible and given the opportunity to reply to them before any decision is made.
The bias rule requires that no-one be judge in his or her own case and that investigators and decision-makers act without bias or perception of bias in all procedures; where a person has preconceived opinions, a vested interest or personal or family involvement, they should not investigate the matter.
And the evidence rule provides that decisions must be based on logical proof and evidence, not on mere speculation.
When I set out to look at the cases involving Denis Tanner, I discovered that these principles of natural justice had all been ignored.
This is the beginning of Ron Irwin’s first chapter in his book Blackened Tanner.
Like Denis Tanner, the subject of the book, Ron Irwin had been a police officer in the Victorian police service. He writes of a man who was identified as a murderer at an inquest into the death of his sister in law- but because there was insufficient evidence to put him to trial, was never given the opportunity to refute the claims made against him.
Denis Tanner and his family had to continue living within a community where he was seen as someone who had literally got away with the murder.
Irwin makes it clear there was something rotten in the state of Victoria, especially within the legal processes and their dealings with Denis Tanner.