Case dropped against Clive's media man and private eye

 

A multi-millionaire former AFL player, Clive Palmer's media adviser and a Gold Coast ex-cop turned private eye have been cleared of bizarre allegations involving an alleged plot to kidnap a NAB banker by luring him to a remote Indonesia island.

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Charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and attempted fraud against former Sydney Swans ruckman turned Schoolies founder Tony Smith, Mr Palmer's media manager Andrew Crook and ex-detective turned private investigator Mick Featherstone were suddenly dropped in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The move came in the middle of their committal hearing, almost six years after they were charged. All three had professed their innocence.

Smith, Crook and Featherstone were accused of luring Mr Smith's NAB personal banker, Adam Gazal, to the Indonesian island of Batam in January 2013 for an interview for a bogus high-paying job with the billionaire Mr Palmer's latest mining venture.

 

Tony Smith at home on the Gold Coast. Picture: Luke Marsden.
Tony Smith at home on the Gold Coast. Picture: Luke Marsden.

 

There is no suggestion that Mr Palmer had any involvement in the alleged plot.

The first part of the committal hearing last November heard that Mr Gazal was confronted by Mr Smith in a Batam villa and forced to record a false confession that he'd lied during a 2012 civil case.

Mr Smith had taken the NAB to court after losing almost $70 million on dealings including a mega-mansion on the Gold Coast's 'Millionaires Row' at Mermaid Beach.

But the criminal charges against Smith, Crook and Featherstone were dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions after star witness Gazal opted not to proceed with his complaint, The Courier-Mail understands.

Clive Palmer and media adviser Andrew Crook on the Gold Coast mining tycoon’s private jet. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Clive Palmer and media adviser Andrew Crook on the Gold Coast mining tycoon’s private jet. Picture: Jamie Hanson

 

A magistrate had recently ordered that the NAB provide original documents prepared for a civil trial to Mr Smith's lawyers for his criminal case. Lawyers for the bank had opposed the application.

Mr Smith - who rebuilt his fortune developing luxury hotels in Bali and earlier this year sold his latest Mermaid Beach mansion for a record $25 million - said he was 'bitterly disappointed' that the charges had been dropped before he had a chance to clear his name, and flagged further legal action against the NAB.

"I'm pissed off and upset - as long as my arse points towards the ground, I just want the truth to come out," he told The Courier-Mail.

"After five years and nine months of the public paying for the DPP to pursue these charges against me and the others, the thing's just been dropped.

"I wasn't worried about being charged because I'm innocent. If you follow due process, the truth has to come out but we've been denied that opportunity."

Mick Featherstone arriving at the Brisbane watch house after being arrested. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Mick Featherstone arriving at the Brisbane watch house after being arrested. Picture: Liam Kidston.

 

Mr Crook said he felt an enormous sense of relief that the matter had been finally dropped and his name had now been cleared.

"I have maintained from day one that I was innocent," he said.

"It has taken six long years for vindication but the day has finally arrived. It is an enormous weight off my shoulders.

"The impact on my personal and business life has been devastating.

"For a matter to be held back in the magistrate's court for six years has been frustrating.

Mr Crook said he could never have endured the ordeal without the support of family and friends, including Mr Palmer and Flight Centre founder Graham 'Skroo' Turner.

"I have had incredible support from people close to me, my wonderful family and friends and business associates including Clive Palmer and Skroo and Jude Turner. I will be forever grateful," he said.

Mr Featherstone did not comment.

Originally published as Bizarre case dropped against ex-AFL star, media man and private eye


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