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Immunity issues in Matthew Leveson case

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016

Key legal issues surrounding the search for Matthew Leveson

* Could Michael Atkins be charged over the death as a result of his evidence at the coronial inquest?

Probably not.

Mr Atkins has already been acquitted of murder and could only be retried if a "double jeopardy" application was successfully launched.

This complex process was made more complicated when Mr Atkins was in May granted immunity from all criminal charges, except perjury or contempt of court, so that he could be compelled to give evidence at the coronial inquest.

Anything Mr Atkins says at the inquest cannot be used as against him in any future criminal proceedings.

This course of action was consented to by NSW Police and the Leveson family.

* Could Mr Atkins face any other charges if Matthew Leveson's body is found?

No.

The search was launched after Mr Atkins struck a deal with the office of NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton and consent was sought from by Matthew's family.

He was given immunity from prosecution for perjury and contempt of court during his evidence at a current coronial inquest into the disappearance.

But the deal is dependent on Mr Atkins providing police with information that leads to the recovery of Mr Leveson's body.

Last week, Mr Atkins admitted lying to the inquest, leaving him open to perjury charges, which police have reportedly used as leverage against him.

* Could Mr Atkins face civil action over the death?

Probably not.

According to criminal law expert Dr Thalia Anthony, Mr Atkins would likely not be charged even if he divulged the whereabouts to police outside of the inquest proceedings.

The certificate of immunity would likely cover him from civil action.

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