Last week’s release of the Class A files of the parliamentary commission of inquiry into allegations against Justice Lionel Murphy reopened a longstanding controversy about the behaviour of the former Labor attorney-general. (The Class B files, concerned simply with the legal definition of the word “misbehaviour” in section 72 of the Constitution, were published in December last year.)

Writing about the Class A files is difficult. It is difficult because the seventy-four files — more than 1700 kilobytes of data in PDF format — are a chaotic jumble of typed memoranda, handwritten notes, correspondence, photocopies, extracts or transcripts from records of interview (often not clearly identified), and excerpts from Hansard, the National Times and Age newspapers, and Penthouse magazine. Significant information is often tucked away in strange places, and I doubt if anyone has yet unearthed it all…

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