Police search for Corby TV cheque

By Billy Adams

Federal cops demand to see evidence of deals with drug smuggler.

More than 20 federal police raiding Channel Seven's Sydney HQ were challenged by the network's lawyers.
More than 20 federal police raiding Channel Seven's Sydney HQ were challenged by the network's lawyers.

The Schapelle Corby saga took a dramatic turn yesterday when police raided the offices of the TV network that hopes to air her first post-prison interview.

Armed with search warrants, more than 20 officers marched into Channel Seven's Sydney headquarters demanding to see paperwork relating to any deals made with the drug smuggler.

Since she was released on parole last week, Corby has been staying at a luxury Bali resort with a TV crew from the network's Sunday Night programme. Speculation has raged that she is in line to receive up to A$3 million ($3.24 million) when she finally talks on camera.

Yesterday the Australian Federal Police confirmed search warrants were executed over an ongoing proceeds of crime investigation.

Furious Seven commercial director Bruce McWilliam described the raid as an attack on the press, and said he had received an expression of regret from a Government minister.

"You've got some heavy-handed goon who thinks they can just come storming in and terrorise people who are trying to carry out their duties," he told the Australian.

"It's a gross overreaction."

In heated scenes, network lawyers questioned the validity of the warrants as AFP officers spent the day at Seven West Media's corporate offices looking for papers connected to the Corby family. Investigators became agitated as a crew tried to film them.

Seven executives insist no deal has yet been secured with Corby, who has been warned by Indonesian authorities that any interview could breach her parole and lead to her being taken back to jail.

McWilliam said police appeared to have bought into speculation of a A$2 million to A$3 million payday. "[Our offer] probably falls far short of what someone in the federal police imagines it should be," he said. "It's a very small figure."

Officers also searched the office of Seven West women's magazine New Idea, which is likely to be part of any deal. Sunday Night's office, which is in another part of the city, was not raided until yesterday afternoon. Police officers were earlier filmed asking Seven staff where it was.

The dramatic events took place after investigators last week demanded documents from Seven, which the network says were handed over. "We don't think it was what they were expecting to see, so they think we're not co-operating with the order," added McWilliam.

Attorney-General George Brandis said police informed him they had executed search warrants, a decision he said was made "independently of government".

In Bali, Sunday Night interviewer Mike Willesee said his programme was only first in line if Corby agrees to speak. "[Police] will find nothing," he said. "They will find no payment because there is no payment."

After serving nine years in jail, the 36-year-old must remain on parole in Indonesia for another three years before she can return to Australia.

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