Mark Ryan denies misleading Tim Pullen’s family
POLICE Minister Mark Ryan has denied he used a grieving family for political gain when he stood beside them at a press conference knowing the new laws they were helping him spruik may not apply to one of their son's killers.
The Australian has revealed that Mr Ryan was informed by the Queensland Parole Board that one of the men jailed over the 2012 death of Tim Pullen had his November parole date approved in the weeks before the "no body, no parole" legislation was passed by State Parliament.
Mr Ryan's office was informed of the July 31 parole decision regarding the killer - Benjamin Oakley - on August 4 and he met with parole board president Michael Byrne QC on August 9, less than 24 hours before the press conference with Tim's parents, Gary and Leanne Pullen, was due to take place. At the August 9 meeting Mr Byrne informed him that decision was under review.
But the Minister and his Cabinet colleague Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath stood beside the Pullen family anyway.
The couple were unaware of the news that was to come.
Mr Ryan defended the decision to go ahead with a press conference including the Pullen family because he took "comfort" from Mr Byrne's guarantee the decision would be reviewed in line with the new laws, meaning Oakley's parole might not be granted.
"The day before, I spoke to the president of the parole board and this is how I had some comfort," he said.
"The president of the parole board assured me that all decisions ... around the grant of parole would be reviewed in line with the "no body, no parole" legislation. And in addition the president of the parole board assured me that no decision around the grant of parole is final until that person walks out the jail gate."
He could not say if that review would likely lead to a reversal of the decision, however.
Mr Ryan is yet to speak to the family but said he was sorry if they felt betrayed.
"I really am sorry they feel this way," he said.
"I am always happy to offer my personal apologies to people who feel that way and that will be something that I will do with the Pullens.
"In hindsight you can always say that you might have wanted to do things differently. I guess the benefit of hindsight is something that we never really have."
Mr Ryan defended his decision not to tell the Pullen family what was happening ahead of the press conference as he did not have authority to tell them.
"I stand by the decision that I made to keep that confidential information confidential," Mr Ryan said.
He said the laws would apply to others jailed over Tim Pullen's death.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said using a family for political purposes "would disgust most people".
He said the Pullens had every right to be sickened by their treatment as "political pawns".
"They knew at the time that they were trying to get political kudos by standing up and making the statements about the 'no body, no parole' laws, that parole had been granted.
"Those ministers should hang their heads in shame and they should apologise for the callous way they've treated the family."
He said the parole decision should be reviewed and criticised Labor for not supporting LNP "no body, no parole" laws introduced earlier in the year.