Friday, March 25, 2011

Victorian police union defends crooked cops but refuses honest ones

A POLICE corruption buster will receive a public apology today for being defamed in a book written by disgraced lawyer Andrew Fraser. All copies of the original version of Fraser's book, Snouts In The Trough, are to be pulped as part of the settlement of a defamation action by Supt Peter De Santo. Terms of the settlement are confidential, but believes Supt De Santo will also receive damages and legal costs.

The book's publisher, Hardie Grant Publishing Pty Ltd, has agreed to read an apology to Supt De Santo in the Supreme Court today.

Supt De Santo sued Hardie Grant over two passages in Fraser's book, which was written with the help of corrupt former drug squad detective Malcolm Rosenes. The book claimed that when Rosenes agreed to tell police ethical standards investigators about corruption in the drug squad he was "lying on the ground in Caulfield Park with Insp De Santo's foot on his head and a gun in his ear".

Another passage said Rosenes' hands were cuffed behind his back and he was lying face down when Insp De Santo "stood over him with his foot on his head pointing a cocked gun at his forehead saying that he was f----- and the time had come for him to start talking".

The publishers have accepted that the allegation was untrue and Supt De Santo, now a police divisional commander based in Wangaratta, was not present when Rosenes was arrested.

Hardie Grant chief executive Sandy Grant has acknowledged in the company's apology that Supt De Santo "is a police officer with an outstanding reputation and service history". The company has apologised to Supt De Santo and his family for injury and hurt caused by publication of the book.

Fraser, who served five years for being knowingly concerned with drug importation before reinventing himself as an author, was not sued. He is still waiting for a decision on his claim to a $1 million reward for providing police with information that helped convict serial killer Peter Dupas.

The arrest of Rosenes in 2001 was the catalyst for the formation of the highly successful Ceja taskforce the following year. Supt De Santo was operations manager of Ceja, which charged 15 serving or former police with corruption. Rosenes was sentenced in 2004 to six years and three months' jail after pleading guilty to drug trafficking.

Supt De Santo yesterday thanked force command for their support, but said he was disappointed by a lack of assistance from the Police Association. He said the association had refused to support his legal action but had financed some of the corrupt police Ceja had charged and sent to jail.

"I perceive there is still a lack of transparency in the process in which they fund applications and disclose to their members precisely how much they've spent defending corrupt police," Supt De Santo said.

Association secretary Greg Davies congratulated Supt De Santo on his legal victory, but said he had not met funding criteria. Sen-Sgt Davies said in most cases it was not appropriate for a personal defamation matter to be financed by members' subscriptions.


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