Richard Boyle’s wife has privately pleaded with the prime minister and attorney general to intervene and end his prosecution, describing the ordeal as a nightmare and an injustice that has shattered their lives.
Boyle spoke out internally, then to an independent watchdog and then to the media in 2018 about the Australian Taxation Office’s aggressive pursuit of tax debts from small businesses, which he said was destroying lives and causing unnecessary trauma to help the agency meet revenue goals.
He is now facing 24 charges relating to his actions prior to blowing the whistle, including his alleged use of a mobile phone to take photographs of taxpayer information and covertly record conversations with colleagues.
Boyle tried and failed earlier this year to use Australia’s whistleblower protections to halt his looming trial, leaving him to face the prospect of prison time.
He is now appealing to the SA supreme court, arguing the state’s district court was wrong to find that the Public Interest Disclosure Act could not protect him for acts done in preparation for blowing the whistle. The case is seen as a test of the strength of Australia’s whistleblowing laws.
His wife, Louise Beaston, has written to Anthony Albanese and the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, urging the government to use rarely deployed powers to intervene and end the prosecution. The same powers were used to end the case against Bernard Collaery, a lawyer who helped reveal Australia’s bugging of ally Timor-Leste during oil and gas negotiations in 2004.
Beaston said their lives had been shattered since 2018 when federal police and tax officers raided their home and again in 2019 when her husband was charged.
“Meanwhile we have been stuck in legal quicksand. It has been almost six years since Richard first lodged his public interest disclosure in October 2017, and yet this ordeal continues. All for telling the truth,” she wrote.
“It is hard to put into words and describe the impact this case has had on Richard and I, and our wider family. Every day we face the burden of this prosecution, and our mental and physical health have both been devastated by this nightmare.
“Every day we wake up and wonder when this nightmare will end. You have the power to stop this injustice. I plead with you to drop the case and let Richard and I get on with our lives. All Richard ever did was tell the truth.”
Labor has so far resisted intervening in the Boyle case.
Dreyfus told parliament earlier this month that he was “strongly of the view that integrity and rule of law are central to Australia’s criminal justice arrangements”.
He said his powers to intervene were reserved for highly unusual and exceptional circumstances.
“I would like to note that the government is committed to delivering strong, effective and accessible protections for whistleblowers,” Dreyfus said.