– Australian authorities did not conduct critical interviews about the theft of of the damaging video of Kevin Rudd swearing and banging a table.
And they did not formally ask for the details of who anonymously uploaded the footage that helped trigger Mr Rudd’s unsuccessful leadership challenge last February.
Documents obtained by Fairfax Media through freedom-of- information laws reveal the Attorney-General’s Department never asked the US Department of Justice to require YouTube to reveal the details of the user – “HappyvegemiteKR” – who uploaded the images of Mr Rudd cursing and thumping the desk as he tried to record a message in Mandarin.
In a November 16th letter to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus disputing the decision to drop the investigation, Mr Rudd said he understood no staff from his time as prime minister, nor any of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s staff at the time had been formally interviewed by police.
This is despite the AFP stating in documents about Operation Mesco that it believed the video had been stolen, either by the person who uploaded it or someone to whom the video was given, and that this was a criminal offence.
And that decision was made despite formal advice from Google, the owner of YouTube, that records covering the period in which it was uploaded had been preserved, waiting for a legal directive to hand them over.
In the letter, Mr Rudd said his working hypothesis was he had inadvertently left the video behind in the prime ministerial offices in the course of the rapid and unexpected exit…on June 24th, 2010, that it had not been returned with other things and that it had later been edited and uploaded onto YouTube for the explicit purpose of damaging my reputation nationally and internationally.
Last October the Attorney-General’s Department told the AFP it had informally asked the US if enough information was available to satisfy US thresholds for obtaining the authorisation necessary to compel YouTube to provide the information.
On the basis of the answers it received from the US it decided a request would not be successful, and it did not make one.
Mr Rudd told Mr Negus the lack of information was understandable since the AFP had not done the interviews necessary for a basic brief of evidence.
If these interviews had been done the AFP could well be in a position to advance a case to the US authorities that would readily meet their probable cause test, he said.
The AFP is now conducting further interviews.
Other documents reveal Mr Rudd’s displeasure with the process.
Mr Rudd wrote to Mr Negus that “I take these offences seriously. They do not constitute a trivial matter.” – Lenore Taylor