Years ago I was involved in a major Australian Federal Police investigation into a high-profile union administrator (amongst others) in which the AFP bugged the homes of a host of dodgy characters all the way from Cairns to Coolangatta. In the process they came up with a mountain of secret tape recordings of sometimes very private communications between all and sundry. The listening devices secreted in the homes of those under investigation included a bug in the main bedroom of a home where one suspect and his wife shared their matrimonial bed. The resultant tape recordings included audio of some goings-on that were so sensitive the tapes ultimately never saw the light of day. But they made some people stop and rethink whether the ends always justify the means, or should there be some careful circumscription of some of our more police intrusive investigation tools.

I was reminded of that history when I read the recent press speculation about police having bugged the flowers on the coffin of murdered Brisbane woman Allison Baden-Clay. Yes, we all want to see crime comprehensively investigated, but is there a line we shouldn’t cross, even in the name of law and order?

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Chris Nyst – Gold Coast Lawyer, Novelist and Film Maker