Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NSW Police Integrity Commission has no integrity

Trying to cover up a report on its 'bias'

A DAMNING report accusing the Police Integrity Commission of bias has been blocked after the watchdog lobbied to stop it being tabled in parliament. For the first time, state parliament has refused to make public the annual report of the Inspector of the PIC, Peter Moss QC.

The commission, which acts as the state watchdog for the police and the NSW Crime Commission, wrote to parliamentary officers urging them not to table it.

Mr Moss, who oversees the PIC, is furious, claiming the "blatant" interference will shake public confidence in the secretive commission. "I am, of course, aghast at this blatant and behind-the-scenes interference by the PIC to prevent publication of my annual report," he wrote in a letter to a former police officer.

Speaker Shelley Hancock and president of the legislative council Don Harwin have asked for advice from the Crown Solicitor's office after PIC acting commissioner Jerrold Cripps told them Mr Moss's report was "unlawful".

The PIC is protected by the same statutory powers covering all judicial officers which protects it from being sued.

Legal experts believe a finding that it had been biased may open the floodgates for civil claims against it by people it has investigated.

Earlier this year, the NSW Police Association passed a vote of no confidence in the PIC after a run of 13 scathing reports by Mr Moss highlighted what he said was unfairness in the PIC hearings.

His latest annual report contains the finding that the PIC showed bias against three police it investigated, to the point of omitting critical evidence supporting the officers' version of events from its final report, called operation Whistler. As part of that operation, the PIC investigated allegations a self-confessed drunken man, arrested while running naked on a street, was assaulted while being arrested.

Mr Moss found the man never complained of an assault. He was allowed to give his evidence in private, without being questioned by lawyers for the police, and the officers were never told what evidence the man had given.

"The (PIC) report was not only biased and unfair in respect of each of the police who gave evidence but was in many respects unreliable and inconsistent and indeed incomprehensible," Mr Moss said in his report.

He wrote that his annual report was delivered to Parliament on Friday, but "for the first time ever" they declined his recommendation to make the report public.

"Without informing me, the PIC wrote to certain officers of the parliament opposing my report being made public on the basis that it contained my report upholding (many) complaints, and that the PIC did not accept (it)," he wrote.

"I have since then been provided with a copy of the certain letters written by the PIC which appear to have brought about this situation. I am currently prevented from distributing my annual report."

Instead, the PIC told parliament it would present its own "special report" which should be read first.

Mr Harwin said he and Ms Hancock would make a decision on tabling Mr Moss's report after legal advice.

A spokesman for Premier Barry O'Farrell said it would be inappropriate for the government to intervene in decisions on tabling reports. [WHY?]

A spokesman for the PIC refused to comment last night.


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