Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

'No apology' for detained doctor

Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef ( file image)
Dr Haneef intends to seek compensation for his treatment

The Australian government has said it will not apologise to an Indian doctor who was wrongly detained and charged over bomb attacks in the UK in 2007.

Dr Mohamed Haneef demanded an apology after a report on Tuesday found that various mistakes had been made.

But Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government would not say sorry at this stage, as Mr Haneef's lawyers intended to sue for compensation.

He said an apology now might influence the claim.

'Totally unacceptable'

Mr Haneef was mistakenly arrested, detained and charged over a failed plot to detonate bombs in London and Glasgow last year.

His ordeal culminated in his deportation, even though terrorism-related charges against him had by that time been dropped.

An Australian judicial inquiry, which published its findings on Tuesday, concluded that mistakes had been made.

Mr McClelland said that "errors were made from ground level to the highest level".

"A man was wrongly charged... A man was detained for longer than was really necessary. These situations are totally unacceptable and should not have occurred," he said.

But on Wednesday Mr McClelland said the federal government would not apologise at this stage of the legal process, as it might influence a future claim for compensation.

"Representing the interest of the commonwealth and the taxpayers of Australia, it's not appropriate for me to make any admissions," he told ABC News.

Mr McClelland has also that insisted that if anyone should be expressing regret, it ought to be his predecessor in the previous conservative government.

The former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, who was in charge of the justice department when Mr Haneef was arrested last year, has said the doctor did not deserve an apology or financial compensation as officials were simply doing their jobs.

"I don't apologise for seeking to ensure that the law works as intended," he told Australian radio.

Mr Haneef's legal team has said it plans to seek substantial damages for his treatment - including malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and defamation.

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