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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Judge conceals connections to Pfizer before dismissing case

Health Industry Hub | July 11, 2024 |

A complaint filed by solicitors PJ O’Brien & Associates alleges that Justice Helen Rofe failed to disclose her prior connections with Pfizer before dismissing a case against the pharmaceutical company.

Victorian GP and pharmacist, Dr Julian Fidge, sought an injunction to halt Pfizer and Moderna from distributing their mRNA Covid vaccines, citing concerns over alleged unlicensed genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are illegal under Australia’s Gene Technology Act 2000.

Both the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have refuted claims that the mRNA vaccines contain GMOs.

On March 1, Justice Rofe dismissed the case on the technicality of standing.

According to instructing solicitor Katie Ashby-Koppens, Dr Fidge’s legal team was unaware of Justice Rofe’s potential conflicts until after her decision was handed down.

Justice Rofe has previously served as counsel on Pfizer’s legal team on at least five occasions in her career as a barrister, during the years 2003-2006 before she was appointed as a Federal Court Judge in 2021.

“Judges are duty bound to disclose not only potential conflicts, but also perceived conflicts. Failing to disclose this information is not just a breach of common courtesy, but is a breach of the judicial obligations of a sitting judge,” said Ashby-Koppens.

“There are 17 judges who sit on the Federal Court Melbourne Registry. Justice Rofe was not the only judge available to hear the matter.”

Dr Fidge’s legal representatives have urged Chief Justice Debra Mortimer to investigate their complaint against Justice Rofe, and have requested that her decision be overturned to allow a fair hearing.

“We also call on the Australian Parliament to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct,” Ashby-Koppens added, noting that their complaint had been circulated among all sitting MPs and Senators.

Under Section 72 of the Constitution, Parliament has the authority to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct and, if proven, can remove a judge from office. However, it has only been used once before in federal matters.

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