The Queensland Law Society says the state would struggle to stop Schapelle Corby making money from a media interview.
Queensland would struggle if it pursued Schapelle Corby over any money she earned from a media interview, the state’s peak body for solicitors says.
The legal opinion comes as the state’s premier Campbell Newman seeks advice on whether Queensland can confiscate any earnings she makes from selling her story about spending nine years in an Indonesian jail for marijuana smuggling.
It follows speculation the 36-year-old former Gold Coast beauty therapist has secured a $2 million deal with the Seven Network.
The state can pursue Corby under the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act of 2002.
Regardless of what the state government does, federal authorities have the power to confiscate her earnings under laws which came into effect in 2003.
The commonwealth Proceeds of Crime Act refers specifically to literary proceeds, derived from someone selling their story or “criminal notoriety”.
Queensland Bar Association president Peter Davis, QC, said federal law would apply to Corby because her Indonesian drug crime was also illegal in Australia.
“It’s not where the offence was committed … an offence against the law of the commonwealth doesn’t necessarily have to occur within the commonwealth,” Mr Davis told AAP.
But solicitors’ peak body the Queensland Law Society says it would be difficult to pursue Corby over a crime committed overseas.
“Given the passage of time, there’d be a whole range of evidentiary issues including, `Are witnesses still available?’ … and whether or not there’s any prejudice against Schapelle because of the passage of time,” criminal solicitor Dan Rogers told AAP.
Mr Rogers said a Queensland court would also have to consider whether Indonesian evidence would be admissible.
“The conviction for Corby in Indonesia wouldn’t automatically mean that a state court would determine that she has engaged in illegal activity so there’s effectively the potential for the re-litigation of the importation of cannabis allegation against her,” he said.
Mr Newman has asked his Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to investigate if Corby could be stopped under Queensland’s proceeds of crime laws.
“I am deeply concerned, in fact I am dismayed, that a convicted drug criminal has benefited it appears from her criminal activity,” Mr Newman told reporters.
The premier said he respected Indonesia’s justice system and its decision to convict Corby.
“I just think we need to recognise there was a trial in Indonesia, she was appropriately convicted, she went to jail and now it appears she’s benefiting from this act and I don’t think it’s very satisfactory,” he said.
In 2012, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions dropped a legal attempt in the NSW Supreme Court to stop David Hicks from making money out of writing a book about his time in a US military jail for giving support to terrorists overseas.
The DPP declined to comment on the Corby matter but the Australian Federal Police confirmed it is being reviewed under the commonwealth Proceeds of Crime Act.
“The AFP is actively examining this matter, but will not speculate on the likelihood of future legal proceedings,” a spokesman told AAP.