His involvement in the Schapelle Corby case began when he went to Bali for a holiday, at the height of the original trial. With a man whom he had met on the flight, Malcolm McCauley, he visited the prison, and like many other tourists, posed for photographs with Schapelle Corby.
McCauley, however, was a long term criminal. When South Australia Police later raided his house, and found a copy of those photographs, they contacted the AFP. Between them, they leaked a false story to the press: that McCauley had been photographed with Schapelle Corby BEFORE she was arrested in Bali. This false association had a serious impact upon Schapelle Corby’s appeal in Indonesia:
The false story only collapsed when David McHugh saw a news report, and came forward with his own copy of the photographs. They were demonstrably taken at Kerobokan Prison, but with respect to the welfare of Schapelle Corby, the damage was already done.
For McCauley, rather than closure, this presented an opportunity.
On release from prison, he spun a story which was not only ludicrous, but fell apart even on cursory investigation. However, he had already found a journalist who would not only report it, but would present it as credible, even in the face of statements by the police dismissing it as “laughable”.
David McHugh had been sold this on the basis that it was “just a story”. Only later did he realise, with horror, the full implications of what McCauley was up to.
He approached the Expendable Project in 2011.
On 19th February 2012, the Expendable Project uploaded extracts from his first interview. He was very clear about the nature of the situation, and McCauley’s fabrications:
However, this was just the start. To the date of his death, David McHugh provided dozens of interviews, spanning countless hours of audio recording. He explained, in detail: how the story was manufactured, his interactions with Eamonn Duff, the harassment by media networks and journalists, the personal abuse he suffered, the sinister threats he was subjected to, and a variety of other matters.
Over the coming months, this material will be processed, and streamed to this website.
A PROFESSIONAL INVESTIGATION
In 2008, on behalf of television networks, David McHugh was the subject of a professional investigation by an experienced and prominent Private Investigator, Col Chapman. Mr Chapman left no stone unturned. His findings fully corroborated David McHugh's position:
THE HOUNDING OF DAVID McHUGH
Although the situation could hardly have been clearer, McCauley and Duff stuck to their story, with Duff proceeding with a book, which was widely presented as fact. This caused acute distress to David McHugh, who simply wanted to be left alone:
But the hounding and false allegations were relentless:
It was so distressing to him that, at one point, he took out a legal restraining order against a television network.
THE FINAL CHAPTER: FREMANTLEMEDIA
On the 24th April 2013, David McHugh was interviewed multiple times, for the Expendable Project, and was clearly distressed during the process. Whilst these interviews were particularly revealing, they are withheld for legal reasons, at present.
Mr McHugh was extremely anxious about a proposed FremantleMedia telemovie, to be based upon Duff's fiction, and broadcast by Nine Network. He was very concerned that he was to be misrepresented, sourced upon the fabrications presented within.
He naturally sought assurances, and stated that he had, through McCauley, set an ultimatum of two weeks to receive such guarantees, after which he would take a variety of actions, including direct contact with other media organizations and legal remedy. Some of these measures were already being organized.
He asked the Expendable Project researcher to find the telephone number of FremantleMedia itself, which was duly provided via Skype:
Later, on the same day, he rang FremantleMedia, and confronted them directly. He told them starkly that the contents of the book were untrue, explained his position, and insisted that they must get someone to call him.
THE DEATH OF DAVID McHUGH
The following day, on the 25th April 2013, David McHugh was violently assaulted. This occurred late in the afternoon, at an RSL branch, after which he managed to return to his home.
He made a call to the Expendable Project at 16:47:
Shortly after this, David Trevor McHugh collapsed and died.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE
Several weeks later, the circumstances of David McHugh’s death had not triggered any contact from South Australia Police, and there had been no media reference to his death whatsoever.
An Expendable Project researcher, therefore, made contact, to explain the background. This included reference to the nature of recent audio recordings, to the seriousness of the new revelations, to Mr McHugh’s ultimatums to various parties, and to other activities being contemplated just hours before his death.
An assurance was sought that a due diligence investigation would be undertaken, in the light of this catalogue of information.
The response was disappointing:
Despite reservations, given that it was David McHugh who personally debunked the false story regarding the McCauley photographs, which first originated from within South Australia Police, another effort was made to open dialogue. Contact details for the Coroner were also requested.
To date, there has been no police contact with researchers of the Expendable Project regarding the contents of the audio recordings, and no response has been forthcoming with respect to the Coroner. It therefore appears that a wider investigation into the circumstances of David McHugh's death has not been initiated.
No explanation or rationale has been forthcoming, either directly, or indirectly.
THE DAVID McHUGH TAPES
These will be presented in chronological order, as and when they are processed.
The first tape includes information on how the original false story was constructed, and how it was understood that it was to be presented as “just a story” rather than a factual representation of events that never occurred. It also includes detailed revelations of which individuals and corporations offered financial inducements, made threats, and harassed.
Further tapes also provide an ongoing log of his interactions with McCauley, Duff, and a number of other individuals. For security reasons, all the recordings have been moved to multiple locations outside Australia.
The Documentary Film: Dead Men Can’t Sue
The McCauley Fabrications: Eamonn Duff, Allen & Unwin, And Fairfax Media