Forrest H. Cleeton was educated in Edinburgh, Scotland, and
became an assisted passage migrant to Australia in 1951. Following the building
trade in Queensland, he was soon to be tagged with the name Jock.
Interested in sport, his success on the soccer football
field led to years of coaching. As a senior club coach, writing, speaking and
performing at club seminars encouraged an overall interest in writing programme
Being married and raising four children offered Jock little
time to pursue further activity. In retirement, he managed to enjoy writing
short stories as a hobby. During his senior years, his interest in writing
introduced him to the management head of the local library, a person who had
known Jock in earlier years as a football club coach. Jock was encouraged to
assist the local library in the establishment of a writers’ group in the growing
town of Caboolture in Moreton Shire, Queensland.
‘Caboolture Writers’ Link’ was born in 2006. Jock was
elected chairman and remained in charge of the very successful writers’ group
over the next 10 years. He continued writing short stories as part of the
group’s monthly exercise agenda and in later years found a further interest in
extending one of his short story efforts to create the fictional story Echoes
of Alcheringa, which he has written under the name C.J. Forrest.
Considering a need for therapeutic change after the
premature passing of his father, Cameron Dunbar was attracted to a notice
offering opportunities for British law officers in overseas locations. Working
in London, an enduring procedure eventually led to an acceptance of his
application for a criminal attorney in Australia. Aspects of case detail,
duties, preparation, direction and expectation would be proposed and directed by
a principal law office situated in Sydney, New South Wales. Limited time did not
allow for prior study of possible variations in Commonwealth law. Cameron’s
confidence lay in the knowledge that Australian law followed similar British
procedures. A hasty visit to his mother and younger sister in Edinburgh,
Scotland, was arranged to fit in with a flight plan booked to coincide with an
appointment date in Sydney. Thoughts of Australia nurtured a fresh desire to
follow his quest to be more than just a lawyer. Criminal justice was his call.
Australia was considered a vibrant place of opportunity for
young ambitious people in 1965. Arriving at Sydney Airport in the warmth of a
bright, sunlit September morning, he felt excited with the prospects of his
‘Down-Under’ challenge. Cameron finally settled in a pre-arranged, one-bedroom
apartment close to Sydney Harbour. Familiar street names in ‘The Rocks’ area of
inner Sydney reminded him of a British influence.
Entering the central city offices of Wallis-Cambridge and
Associates the following morning, a mature lady receptionist greeted him.
‘Good morning, Mr Dunbar. Mr Wallis is expecting you.’
A cordial invitation led him into a spacious, sparsely
decorated room. Walls of polished timber panels were complimented by large
paintings of Australian Outback scenes of sheep, cattle droving, galloping
horses and large country homesteads. An overall bigness, space and comfort felt
‘Cameron Dunbar, come in,’ a voice seemed to boom from
where a distinguished grey-haired man sat behind a heavily carved desk at the
far end. ‘Welcome to Australia. I’m Harvey Wallis, please take a seat.’
The desk was much too wide to lean over and shake hands.
‘I take it you have settled in comfortable accommodation.’
Cameron responded with a mention of appreciation.
After discussing the long flight and Cameron’s preparedness to commence with
details of duty, the senior law man referred to notes in front of him.
‘I take it you understand your position is an undertaking
to conduct the duties of a defence council in a homicide case?’
Cameron agreed, ‘Yes, sir.’
‘I am sure you will be aware of the strict rules of
application to Commonwealth procedure in an Australian court of law?’
‘I must point out, Cameron, our company has developed
guidelines that include an expectation of all representatives to conduct their
lawful duty while maintaining a mutual respect for the company and the interest
of the clientele you represent in a non-discriminatory manner.’ He
hastened to add, ‘It is my duty to mention these basic internal rules
prior to engagement. I hope you understand.’
‘Yes, sir, err, Mr Wallis, I understand.’
Cameron had no reason to question any reference to rules or
‘Have you participated in military service?’ Mr
Cameron offered that his father, William Dunbar, had been a
military man most of his life, and had served some years in the South Pacific
during the war. A quiet moment followed; the senior barrister leaned
backward to clasp his hands across his front and steadied his posture. Behind
the unyielding image of this silver-haired, straight-faced man with piercing
blue eyes, Cameron sensed he was not finished. Mr Wallis sat upright, his
eyes fixed on Cameron.
‘I am aware of the commendable record and reputation you
have established back home. However, I feel I must warn you...’
Cameron sat a little more upright.
‘This appeal case will require more than an articulate
defence representative with a degree in the study of law. We have sought to
acquire a legal advocate from a neutral background to avoid any suggestion of
bias, discrimination or racial favouritism in this Queensland case. I’m sure you
will appreciate the psychological gulf that separates two extremely different
cultures, not simply black and white, but the natural divide between the people
of an Australian Aboriginal culture and the variant customs of white European
descendants, who themselves have endured a difficult settlement history in
Cameron sat respectably poised and graciously interested.
‘Cameron, I hope you will forgive me for wondering if an
attorney from the other end of the world, especially a young Englishman, will be
able to relate and comprehend the diverse controversy that includes differences
within local politics, racial issues, Aboriginal culture, Australian standards,
lifestyle and so on.’
Cameron listened with interest while Mr Wallis took time to
‘This case will include pages of innuendo surrounding land
rites, claims, stolen generations, discrimination, misunderstanding, political
pressures and biased social behaviour, not to mention climate, living conditions
etc,’ he explained before hesitating. ‘To be frank, Cameron, I expected an older
man. I hope you will understand my initial observation. Obviously, our company
seeks a determined outcome with a satisfactory conclusion to this case and my
concern is, will a young English law representative manage to grasp and handle
the conflict and confusion that will no doubt surround this particular
Mr Wallis leaned forward to reshuffle the dossier on the
desk. His carefully worded observation created a measure of angst in the young
newcomer’s demeanour. London office superiors had praised his suitability and
training as excellent credentials. Cameron’s thinking reached another gear.
‘Am I to believe I have travelled all this way to be
considered incapable before I get started?’
Cameron had nothing but respect for this elder law
executive who was, in fact, a QC, possibly in his late sixties. Realising that
this man sought more than regard for any written qualification offered on his
behalf, Cameron could only ponder.
Maybe this is some sort of procedure to test my
capabilities. Am I supposed to depend on sheer character performance to bolster
my injured psyche and prove myself worthy of my written reference?
London superiors had mentioned this man, Wallis, had a
reputation for being a straight shooter. Never once had Cameron prepared himself
for this introduction. Patience helped him gather some composure. Mr Wallis
waited, also with patience, no doubt expecting some response. Visible through
the large plate-glass window in the background, Cameron stared momentarily at
the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline. It reminded him of
Edinburgh, the Forth Bridge and, for some reason, his mother.
‘I understand, sir...’ Cameron began.
Mr Wallis indicated no change of expression or posture.
Cameron followed a similar approach in his reply.
‘... with regard to my written profile, I would like you to
know and understand, there is lenient mention of practical ability I feel
requires consideration before any judgement of my ability or character can, or
should be assessed.’
The stately executive law man sat quite still, obviously
unmoved. Cameron braced his shoulders.
‘Personally, Mr Wallis, it remains of no interest to me
what has been written in resume of my suitability, nor am I deterred by the
value given to an Englishman’s understanding of racial difference in Australia.
I was offered the opportunity to be the one of a chosen few possible
representatives. I was considered best suited for the position of a neutral
defence council in the case you refer to, by the most influential law principals
in Britain. I was finally chosen due to my record of consistent success in this
domain, that is, representing the principle process of British and Commonwealth
law, in many cases sifting through page upon page of litigation relating to
religion, politics, race relations, cultural differences, including detailed
considerations dealing with individuals from all walks of life. At all times I
achieved a reputation for concluding a truthful outcome by conducting fair
expression, without favour or prejudice whatsoever. In their wisdom, Mr
Wallis...’ Cameron looked directly into his eyes, ’a choice of a councillor from
the other end of the world was, I believe, to present a defence councillor
worthy of confirming your preference for neutrality. I realise, sir, judgement
in this case will be served by a mountain of documented records containing
local, regional, state, possibly national issues, not to mention tribal,
personal, family and cultural consequence, all of which I am well aware will
require a careful investigation of race relations.’
Cameron noticed Mr Wallis lean slightly to one side
in his swivel chair, and before allowing him to say anything further, Cameron
‘I would like to mention, sir,’ and he paused, ‘my résumé
clearly states that I am the son of a Welsh father and Scottish mother. I was
born in Scotland, raised and educated in Edinburgh. I am employed in London. I
am NOT English.’
Mr Wallis rose to his feet; a faint smile appeared as he
gathered his files. He reached over the corner of the desk, his open hand
‘Well said, Cameron. Welcome aboard. I will contact London
immediately with a letter of approval in your favour. Miss Arlington will direct
you with any further detail you may require. I wish you all the very best. I
will no doubt have a progress report in due course.’
On reaching the door, Mr Wallis turned.
‘Goodbye, Cameron, and good luck.’
A clicking sound echoed through the empty room, leaving the
young advocate alone with his thoughts. Almost breathless, he allowed his
briefcase to fall to the floor as he sank into the soft comfort of the office
chair. Absolute quiet seemed to resinate around him while his injured psyche
recovered with some deep breathing. Miss Arlington invited Cameron to join the
staff in the tea room.