Doohan dead, 91

WILLAGEE peace-activist, socialist and tilter at windmills John Doohan died last week, aged 91.

He’d waged a decades-long war against ASIO for a copy of the file on him it denied existed, and when it was finally handed over under the 30-year rule, he got wrong information it contained expunged.

I met Mr Doohan several times over the years as he sought coverage for his various battles, including the hunt for the Sydney and the truth about its sinking.

He had the tenacity of a pit-bull and a mind like a steel trap, and while he was frustrating, and at times downright annoying, I found him very likable.

• John Doohan

Mr Doohan’s life was like a John Le Carre novel, starting with lying about his age to enlist in the navy in World War II, where he came under fire in the North Atlantic and Pacific and was awarded a medal for bravely.

He came to ASIO’s attention when he campaigned fiercely against the Vietnam war, and possibly earlier when he headed to the Middle East in 1948 to support Palestine against the fledgling State of Israel. In the mid-70s he took his family to Russia to live, only to make a dramatic escape when things turned sour.

Back in Australia, ASIO surveillance continued as Mr Doohan maintained his rage against social injustice, including helping the Mickelbergs who were wrongfully convicted for the Perth mint swindle.

Mr Doohan is survived by daughters Cathleen Doohan and Alana Clutterbuck.


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