Australian Federal Police have defended their raid on Seven Network offices and say they found enough to continue investigating plans for a paid exclusive interview with Schapelle Corby.
AFP assistant commissioner Michael Phelan said on Saturday proceeds of crime legislation clearly specify that a person convicted of a crime in Australia or overseas should not benefit from their notoriety.
He said warrants were executed on Seven offices on Tuesday in Sydney to discover any documents relating to an exclusive deal.
But Mr Phelan acknowledged an error on the warrants, saying they related to a criminal investigation, whereas it was solely a civil matter.
The AFP regretted this error and had apologised to Seven. The officer responsible had been counselled, he said.
“There is enough for us to continue our investigation to see whether or not we should issue a proceed of crime (action),” he told reporters.
Corby, 36, spent more than nine years in jail in Bali after being found guilty of importing marijuana.
She was released on parole on February 10 and promptly whisked away to a luxury resort.
Mr Phelan said that gave good reason to suspect a media deal involving Seven – $2 million according to initial speculation but now thought to be about $500,000 – was planned.
“I would be quite happy if she does an interview. She just can’t be paid for it,” he said.
Mr Phelan said in previous proceeds of crime action over the Corby book My Story, some $100,000 was seized but a larger sum was moved overseas.
Seven Network commercial director Bruce McWilliam said their next step would be the Federal Court on Monday to have the search warrants set aside.
“When they make such a basic error as that you wonder what else is wrong,” he told reporters.
Mr McWilliam did not deny Seven was seeking an exclusive interview but said there was no deal yet and the AFP were getting ahead of themselves.
“If a reasonable fee is asked for, that would be a negotiation. I am not saying we wouldn’t agree to it,” he said.
“We have been negotiating obviously for a long time. Michael Willesee is not up there for a holiday.”
Mr McWilliam said the only signed agreement was with Mercedes Corby to arrange an interview. For that she had been paid some $25,000.
“Sure, there’s an expectation that money might have to be paid. We are not denying that. We haven’t done a deal. All the media outlets are after it,” he said.