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  • Sankey v Whitlam was an important court case decided in the High Court of Australia on 9 November 1978. On 20 November 1975, in the middle of the election campaign which followed the dismissal of the Whitlam government, a Sydney solicitor, Danny Sankey, initiated a private prosecution against Gough Whitlam, Rex Connor, Lionel Murphy and Jim Cairns. The prosecution related to the alleged unlawful conduct of the accused in relation to their participation in the so-called 'loans affair'. Two charges were laid against each defendant. The first alleged that the loan proposal would have contravened the Commonwealth-State Financial Agreement of 1928. The second alleged that the defendants had conspired to deceive the Governor-General in the performance of his duties. The prosecution went through numerous preliminary steps in the Queanbeyan Magistrates' Court before Stipendiary Magistrate Darcy Leo, including appeals to the NSW Court of Appeal, before it reached a stage which brought it before the High Court. On 9 November 1976, Sankey subpoenaed Executive Council and Loan Council documents for production before the Magistrate. The Fraser government objected to produce these documents, arguing that they were confidential and were subject to 'crown privilege'. This claim was upheld by the Magistrate. The matter went on appeal to the NSW Court of Appeal. The appeals were removed to the High Court.

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