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Release of Mervyn Jenkins Security Report

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon. John Moore, MP Minister for Defence

Friday, 1 December 2000 MIN365/00

Release of Jenkins Report

The Minister for Defence, Mr John Moore, today released an unclassified version of a report into the security investigation of Mr Mervyn Jenkins, a former Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) Attaché at the Australian Embassy in Washington. Mr Jenkins took his life on 13 June 1999, a day after being interviewed as part of a joint Department of Defence, and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade investigation into document handling practices in Washington.

"Given the circumstances of Mr Jenkins' death, in February this year I commissioned the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to carry out an inquiry into the propriety and conduct of that security investigation," Mr Moore said. "This followed discussion with Mrs Jenkins and her legal representative on the nature and subject of the inquiry."

The inquiry was conducted by Mr Tony Blunn, a former Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, on behalf of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The Inspector-General released his final report in late October.

"The report finds that the 1999 decision to conduct a security investigation was proper and that there was nothing improper or contrary to Commonwealth procedures in the processes used by the investigators.

"However, the report is critical of the manner in which Mr Jenkins was managed while he was in Washington. It finds that DIO did not deal adequately with allegations against Mr Jenkins relating to mishandling of classified documents when these allegations were first made in 1998.

"For this and other reasons, including security concerns in the aftermath of the Wispelaere case, the report concludes that the 1999 investigation was inappropriately focused on disciplinary issues.

"The Department of Defence has advised me that it accepts the criticisms of Defence." Mr Moore said that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the content of the documents involved, however, he did confirm that they were not related to the 1999 East Timor crisis.

The Secretary for Defence, Dr Allan Hawke, wrote to Mrs Jenkins in October advising her of the inquiry outcome.

The Department of Defence is following up recommendations of the Inspector-General's report within Defence and with other agencies.

"We already had instituted a number of reforms in the management of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, including the establishment of the Defence Intelligence Board, the appointment of a new Director DIO, and the implementation of enhanced management and security practices in DIO.

"I am pleased to see that the Inspector-General's report also acknowledges the willing and helpful cooperation the inquiry received from Mrs Jenkins," said Mr Moore.

"The untimely death of her husband was a tragedy. Merv Jenkins was a fine man who was highly respected by his colleagues. To Mrs Jenkins and her family, I would again like to convey my deepest sympathy."

ENDS

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