A Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal member has denied a request to recuse himself from an anti-discrimination hearing involving police after disclosing his son was a police legal unit lawyer.
QCAT member David Paratz AM, in a decision published on Wednesday, said he did not believe he should consider standing down from a proposed three-day anti-discrimination matter involving Mustapha Hattabi.
“This matter concerns a claim by (Mr Hattabi) against the State of Queensland and four police officers in relation to alleged discrimination against him,” he said.
“I caused the (QCAT) Registry to send an email to the parties…advising them…(my) son has recently commenced employment as a Legal Officer with the Queensland Police Service Legal Unit.”
The email to the parties also stated that, to the best of his knowledge, Mr Paratz did not believe his son had any knowledge of, or involvement in, Mr Hattabi’s matter and that he considered himself able to hear and decide the matter fairly.
However, Mr Hattabi notified the tribunal earlier this month of his objection to Mr Paratz hearing the matter after learning of his son’s employment.
In his list of objections, Mr Hattabi said: “I question the ability of the member to be totally impartial with an immediate family member being part of the QPS Legal Unit as an employee.
“We acknowledge impartiality.
“We believe you would anticipate an innate defence in such circumstances.
“Also, a subconscious mindset to defend the police community and an immediate member of his family would cause serious concerns.
“This is objectionable and it has to be fair with no conflict of interest and that includes a family member working directly in the QPS Legal Unit.
“I question the member’s subconscious impartiality considering this matter with police and my predicament.”
Mr Paratz, in his ruling, said: “I do not consider that my son’s employment would automatically cause me to have ‘a subconscious mindset to defend the police community’ or affect my ‘subconscious impartiality’…and am confident that no such subconscious issue will affect my hearing and consideration of the matter.
“I do not consider that the submissions of Mr Hattabi establish a logical connection between the source of his concerns as to bias or prejudice, and a deviation from a fair and just hearing and determination a result of his concerns as to bias or prejudice.
“I consider that I am able to fulfil my duty as a Member of the Tribunal…notwithstanding the circumstance of which I have made disclosure.
“Having considered the submissions of the parties…I do not consider that I should stand down from hearing the matter, and will proceed to hear it as scheduled.”
Read the full decision.