The Jenkins Case
Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Along with our colleagues in the Department of Defence, DFAT regrets the
tragic death of Mr Mervyn Jenkins last year in Washington.
Mr Jenkins served at the Embassy in Washington as an Attachï¿½ for the Defence
Handling the Jenkins case is the responsibility of the Department of Defence.
Because of recent misrepresentations in the media, it might be helpful
to explain DFAT's involvement in the case on the occasion of the release
of an unclassified version of the Blunn Report that was commissioned by
the Inspector-General for Intelligence and Security.
The key findings of the Blunn Report are that:
- the allegations made against Mr Jenkins in May 1999 were serious and
- the decision to investigate the allegations was timely and appropriate;
- there was nothing improper or contrary to Commonwealth procedures in
the processes used by the investigators.
DFAT became involved in the case when it was advised on 26 May 1999 of
allegations that Mr Jenkins had on repeated occasions passed AUSTEO (Australian
Eyes Only) documents to foreign nationals.ï¿½
Such action is expressly forbidden under long-standing Australian security
instructions.ï¿½ This position has been subsequently reaffirmed by the National
Security Committee of Cabinet.
DFAT became involved in the investigation because it has responsibility
for security at overseas missions and also for relations with foreign governments.ï¿½
DFAT was also concerned because some of the AUSTEO documents that Mr Jenkins
had allegedly passed to foreign nationals were DFAT-origin diplomatic cables.ï¿½
It was agreed with the Secretary of the Department of Defence to commission
a joint investigation by two Canberra-based officers, one from each Department.
The investigation was conducted in accordance with the requirements of
the Commonwealth Fraud Investigation Standards Package.ï¿½ This is
accepted by the Australian Government as a set of best practice standards
for security and other investigations.ï¿½ These standards are designed
to protect not only the interests of the Commonwealth, but also the rights
of affected individuals.ï¿½ The investigation procedures take account of the
relevant provisions of the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914.ï¿½ DFAT has
an important responsibility to the Australian government and people to protect
classified information belonging to Australia and uses these procedures
routinely in investigations of security, fraud and misconduct.
It is not true that sensitivity over East Timor was the reason the investigation
was undertaken.ï¿½ The allegations which led to the investigation referred
to mishandling of a large number of classified documents, including DFAT
diplomatic cables marked AUSTEO.ï¿½ The allegations made no reference to the
content of the cables.
Media inquiries:ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Matt Francis (Departmental) 02 6261 1555