Thursday, March 31, 2011


Former Labor MP and former Queensland police sergeant Peter Pyke today slammed police commissioner Bob Atkinson over his piss-ant policy on police pursuits which he says has demonstrably stripped the police of their ability to fight crime in Queensland.
Pyke says street cops are fuming and he calls on the cops’ union to get off their lazy bums and to tell the Bligh government it is time for Atkinson to go and sit on a beach somewhere and let police do their jobs which – incidentally commissioner - includes catching criminals.

The story so far: Pyke says that around midnight on Monday 28 March 2011, this week, a white Nissan 1999 utility was stolen from Torrington, West Toowoomba. Through the good work of alert uniformed police who were nearby police quickly located the stolen vehicle driving around in Wilsonton not far from where it was stolen. This first police unit to sight the stolen ute was a marked police mobile patrol which attempted to stop the Nissan utility using their lights and sirens, that’s their job. When the stolen car accelerated away and attempted to evade police, the officers were forced to pull over and stop their marked police vehicle whilst the stolen vehicle was allowed to drive off.

Yup, that’s right, in accordance with commissioner Atkinson’s instructions, despite it being late at night and other traffic virtually non-existent, police are not allowed to pursue stolen vehicles. Full stop.

Pyke says that what followed is enough to make any Queensland citizen wonder. He says that
all police in Toowoomba were then advised directly by the Toowoomba Communications Controller that they were to ‘observe’ the stolen vehicle only but were not – repeat – not allowed to chase it.

Pyke, who monitors police radio transmissions, says that for the next 45 minutes, every police mobile unit in Toowoomba, Helidon and Gatton districts were forced to sit on their hands and watch as the stolen vehicle drove past several police cars and off into the night. He says an unmarked detective’s unit was the second police vehicle to get behind the stolen car and activate it’s lights and sirens to try to stop it but was forced to pull over when the stolen ute kept driving. A marked Dog Squad unit also got behind the stolen car but was also directed not to attempt to stop but to ‘observe’ the Nissan utility only.

Pyke says there were more than enough police units in the immediate area to have quickly detained the utility at around midnight on a Monday night when only cops, baddies and taxis are to be found driving around and the risks of a member of the public being harmed by a responsible pursuit would have been minimal.

“For the sake of a short sharp chase, the stolen Nissan utility and its offending occupants could have been stopped on Monday night within minutes of it being stolen at a time when there was no traffic about and it would have been safest for police to attempt to do that. And isn’t that what we train, equip and pay police to do?” asks Pyke.

Pyke says as if this isn’t bad enough, days later the stolen Nissan ute is still being driven around Toowoomba’s streets with impunity and has been used to commit other crimes.

“The Nissan ute now has false plates CJR-61 screwed onto it and twice on Wednesday 30 March 2011 the stolen vehicle drove into the bottle-shop of the Southern Hotel in Kearneys Spring, Toowoomba where it’s occupants happily loaded up with slabs of Jim Beam bourbon and drove off without paying. Twice, once in the afternoon and the second time at about 10.00 PM,” Pyke says.

Pyke says all this proves that Queensland cops have lost control of the streets because of their inept, incompetent and politically-compromised commissioner.

“Now what happens?” asks Pyke. “It’s a stolen car, it has stolen false plates on it, it keeps driving into bottle-shops and stealing alcohol. What are police supposed to do next time they see it driving past? Wave?”

Pyke says the Bligh government is at fault for extending Atkinson’s contract way past his use-by-date. He is calling on Queenslanders to make their own judgements about whether he is right and police have been forced by Atkinson to hand over control of Queensland streets to the criminals. He says Queenslanders who support street cops doing their jobs should voice their anger at this situation.

But Pyke says there is a twist to this matter, “In our system, all sworn police officers hold the ‘office of constable’ under the rule of law,” says Pyke. “I say no-one can tell a sworn officer he or she may not arrest a person they suspect of committing a criminal offence. In fact, anyone who prevents a sworn police officer from doing so might be arrested for obstruction or as a party to the offence.” Pyke urges cops to look it up.

Pyke says cops should ignore Atkinson and do their jobs which is to catch criminals and put them behind bars.

“I call also on Premier Bligh to explain why her government extended police commissioner Bob Atkinson’s contract when he has reduced police to mere ‘observers’ of crime,” Pyke says.


The above is a Press Release from Peter Pyke, 0427 388 598, -- of today's date

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ex-model sues police over harassment

A FORMER swimsuit model is suing the Queensland Police Service for $200,000 in damages, claiming she was repeatedly harassed by a traffic policeman and wrongfully arrested.

Gold Coast mum Renee Eaves, 34, is claiming a former Brisbane constable intercepted her 15 to 20 times between 2004 and 2006 and was known to regularly park outside the Brisbane unit she lived in at the time.

In a statement of claim lodged in the Brisbane District Court, the former Miss Bikini World said the officer often pulled her over for minor traffic infringements and once fined her for being a car passenger with a twisted seatbelt.

Police "investigating" police again

Police can act as judge and jury and that's OK, apparently

HUMAN rights crusader Terry O'Gorman is furious that the Sippy Downs police officers who forced a teenager to deflate his bike tyres and walk three kilometres home will not be disciplined.

Josh Maday was caught without a helmet while riding a BMX on Claymore Rd. Instead of issuing the then 15-year-old with a warning or fine, officers took the unusual step of deflating the bike tyres to ensure he did not reoffend.

Mr O'Gorman, the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties vice-pres-ident, made a complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, asking whether the officers could be charged with wilful damage.

BUT the matter was directed back to the Sippy Downs station. The officer in charge ruled no further action was necessary after interviewing his colleagues, Josh and Josh's mother, Anne Dyer.

Mr O'Gorman said the internal investigation was “ludicrous”. He has written to the Premier about the police complaints system and saddled this example alongside the Palm Island controversies. “It is absurd the complaint against the police concerned would be investigated by the senior sergeant of the station at which they were based,” Mr O'Gorman said. “It is this council's view that it is well overdue for an independent review to be undertaken of the police complaints process in Queensland.”

Mr O'Gorman said the whole system had become “tortuous”. “We contend the end result of that review should be a splitting of the Crime and Misconduct Commission into two bodies – a Crime Commission and a Police Integrity Commission.”

He said his other concern with the Sippy Downs investigation was the interpretation of the Police Powers Act. He believes it was designed only for public acts like riots.

Ms Dyer said her son's life was put at risk. “Despite what police say it was not a busy road and while he did have a mobile phone, he had no credit,” she said. “With the whole Daniel Morcombe case in the air you'd think they would not just leave him.”

A spokesman for the police union said they had no concerns. “Our business is keeping young people safe when they might not be able to themselves,” he said. “The officers involved acted lawfully and it (letting tyres down) is widespread practice.”

He said every police investigation was overseen by the Ethical Standards Commission and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.


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.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Useless South Australian cops

Police had no idea car was stolen from Adelaide's CBD despite two 000 calls

POLICE are investigating two claims that they failed to respond to 000 calls at the weekend. The allegations have prompted renewed calls for an overhaul of the SA Police communications branch.

Two men told The Advertiser that police failed to respond to separate 000 calls about a car theft in progress in the city on Saturday night. Their complaint follows SAPOL confirmation it will review allegations that police failed to attend another 000 call relating to an alleged assault later that night.

Tyson Coates, 23, said he had just finished dinner at the Coopers Ale House on Pulteney St on Saturday night when he and a friend saw his Nissan Skyline being stolen. They said they both dialled 000 as they were pursuing the car, providing the operator with exact details of its location and appearance.

The operator told Mr Coates to return to the Cooper Ale House to meet an officer and give more details. When police failed to arrive after two hours, he left and went to Sturt police station to check on the progress of the investigation the next day. "We went to the police station to make sure it had been recorded as stolen and nothing had been done," Mr Coates said.

"They hadn't even put it on the system. They weren't even aware it was stolen. "It is pretty disappointing because there were police everywhere because it was the middle of the city. "I was thinking they might have even caught them before the car left the city. "Who knows where it is now."

Mr Coates' friend has made a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority.

A police spokesman said a patrol was not tasked to attend the Coopers Ale House despite operator advice to the contrary. Because of this, no report was made and the car was not logged as being stolen until Mr Coates went to Sturt police station. The matter was now registered with the complaints authority.

The allegations follow the death of Callington woman Pirjo Kemppainen, 63, who was found murdered 16 hours after she called the 131 444 police assistance line for help on September 11 last year. A report into that incident has not been made public.

Opposition police spokesman David Ridgway said the incidents were eroding public confidence in the system. "That's three phone calls within a few of hours of each other," Mr Ridgway said. "Clearly there is some breakdown in the communication centre and there should be an inquiry.

"When people ring 000 they expect to get a response. You can't have people ringing 000 and getting no response."


A rogue national police agency

Crimes agency caught bypassing law

THE country's peak criminal intelligence agency has been caught bypassing part of its oversight regime regarding one of its most secretive activities: officers participating in crime.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman criticised the Australian Crime Commission yesterday for renewing its own "controlled operations authorities".

Controlled operations are undercover investigations where officers are given permission to be involved in certain crimes in order to catch criminals.

The Crimes Act requires the commission to seek a renewal for ongoing controlled operations every three months from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. But the Ombudsman discovered the commission had taken to issuing wholly new authorisations internally in what amounted to bypassing the law.

The report, released yesterday, revealed that two controlled operations that began in 2007 had their last tribunal reviews in December 2008, but continued for at least another 12 months.

No law enforcement officer is allowed to participate in or allow serious crimes such as grievous bodily harm, rape or murder. Dealing or trafficking drugs or money are allowed, however.

"That's a fairly significant power that an agency has … and the Parliament's intent was that power be used judiciously and there be significant oversight," the acting Ombudsman, Alison Larkins, said.

The commission's chief executive, John Lawler, said it had been complying with the Ombudsman's interpretation of the Crimes Act since November: "The ACC does not view this as a breach … However, the ACC does acknowledge and accept the Ombudsman's position and has adjusted its practices."

Meanwhile, Australia's foreign spies have the right to monitor Australians overseas if they are engaged in UN sanctions busting. The change, to Australia's Intelligence Services and ASIO acts, was among several amendments passed by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, in Parliament yesterday.

Australia's foreign spies - ASIS, the Defence Signals Directorate and the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation - are only allowed to collect intelligence on Australians if given permission by their minister.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Useless cops in South Australia too

You can believe their story if you want to. If they were really after the offender, wouldn't they have stopped to ask the woman for info about him?

AN INTERNAL review will be held in to allegations police did not respond to an emergency tripe-0 call. "Scott", 58, said he and his brother, 60, went to the aid of a young woman after they heard her give a "blood-curdling scream", at Urrbrea, about midnight on Saturday.

They saw a woman "cowering and screaming" on the ground with a man standing over her. The man then punched Scott's brother, causing a cut near his eye that required five stitches. Scott called triple-0 but claimed no police arrived although he waited on the street for "well over an hour".

Sturt police operations manager Chief Inspector Ashley Gordon said a patrol drove-by 20 minutes after the call but did not stop because they were looking for the offender, who had fled. "Once the offenders have gone Scott and his brother aren't in any danger so the patrol, from what I have been told, were looking for the offenders in the area," Insp Gordon said. "At 00:27 a patrol was on scene and began searching the area for suspects that fitted the description given by the caller."

Insp Gordon said 14 patrols were available at the time of the emergency call and police took a statement from Scott yesterday.

Shadow police minister David Ridgway demanded the findings of the review be released publicly. "What we need is an urgent transparent inquiry into why didn't (police) attend," he said. "If it's resourcing, then tell us what resources the police need."


Monday, March 21, 2011


The events surrounding the suppression by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) of official footage of the Tasering of a highly-disturbed 17 year old girl in a Toowoomba fish and chip shop last week amounts to a propaganda-like distortion of public information, says former Queensland MP and QPS Academy law lecturer and training sergeant Peter Pyke.

Pyke says the Bligh government is attempting every trick in the book to positively spin the Tasering incident, evidenced by the initial coverup of the incident, the later selective management of who might see the vision of the incident, the quick rush to commend the conduct of the police involved and the continued concealment from public scrutiny of the video footage which he says cannot be supported legally.

“This attempt to put a positive spin on behaviour most might regard as inhumane would make the Former Nazi Information Minister Herman Goebels, who coined the term “propaganda” proud,” Pyke says.

Pyke says that he shares the concerns of former Queensland Corruption Commissioner and Federal Court Judge Tony Fitzgerald QC who found fault with the political process last year in the introduction to a book “The Fitzgerald Legacy: Reforming Public Life in Australia and Beyond”, saying voters are only called on to participate at elections every three years. "Beyond that, the electorate is little more than an audience to a substantially rule-free political contest. "The rights of citizens are largely unprotected by legal constraints on official power which elsewhere are considered a hallmark of democracy."

For a democracy to function, Pyke says, the Media and Civil Society both play an essential and vital function which is to ‘monitor’ the other three branches of government namely; the parliament, the executive and the judiciary. Pyke suggests this monitory function is so important that it should be labelled and elevated to another branch of government namely: ‘The Fourth Branch’.

“The health of a democracy can be measured by how well a government assists or prevents the media and civil society to function,” says Pyke. “Under ‘Weather Girl’ Premier Anna Bligh in Queensland, I say we are witnessing a disturbing control of information about police and other state government agencies far worse than anything I saw during the dark days of the Joh era,” he says.

Pyke says the Toowoomba Taser incident has caught the Bligh Queensland government and top cops out attempting through the Police Service’s Media Unit to suppress and manipulate information about a matter of considerable community disquiet where a highly-agitated 17 year old Toowoomba girl could have been Tasered to death but instead suffered a substantial head injury.

In a communication to selected media last Friday, at 1.00 PM some Brisbane journalists were invited by Police Media to a carefully controlled screening at Police HQ of the video footage shot by one of the three police who initially attended Bernie’s Fish and Chip Shop in Herries Street, Toowoomba CBD on Wednesday night.

The Police Media Unit advised:

“Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett will brief media this afternoon about a Taser deployment in Toowoomba on Wednesday night. At this briefing, media will be shown body worn camera footage of this incident.

Note: Media will be shown this footage for background purposes. For legal reasons, it cannot be broadcast or released to media at this time.

Pyke says although he has not seen the vision himself, senior Queensland journalists who have spoken to him since the Media Unit showed the vision to them on Friday say the footage is highly confronting and appears to be prima facie evidence that the three male police officers who attended the incident involving the highly-agitated girl attempting ‘suicide-by-cop’ over-reacted.

Pyke says he believes the video footage records that the girl was shot in the chest with the Taser electrodes, which is a direct contravention of manufacturer Taser International’s guidelines.

As reported by Sky News (Source AAP) the vision shows:

“From the moment the three officers arrived, the tension was high and police instantly began shouting at the girl to drop the knife. She was warned more than 10 times and was told she would be shot with a Taser stun gun if she did not do as told. The girl kept on shouting: 'Real gun, real gun. Shoot me with a real gun'. Less than 40 seconds after police arrived, the girl was Tasered. She fell to the floor with a thud and a pool of blood formed around her head. She was later treated by ambulance officers for a head injury. Even when on the ground, the girl kept on pleading to be shot, the footage showed.

[Newly-appointed Deputy Commissioner Ross] Barnett defended the officers and said they followed protocol. Although the girl only appeared to be within a few metres of the officers, Mr Barnett said she was out of pepper-spray range. [Barnett] did not answer questions as to why a baton was not used. He said the officers were acting within police guidelines to use the Taser.”

Pyke says it is his understanding that although the Queensland Police Service Media Unit has refused to release the vision filmed by police at the scene of the Tasering incident to the media and the community - claiming ‘legal reasons’ - he has been told by police the footage has already ‘gone viral’ within police networks and has been available since Friday internally for QPS employees and Police Union members to access and download.

“It is my belief that cops and their networks all over Australia have been selectively granted access to the restricted video footage, while such access to public information is being denied to our most senior academics, citizens, journalists, jurists and legal people,” Pyke says. “That’s clearly wrong.”

As a former police on-street training officer and police academy law lecturer, Pyke says he believes the girl who was Tasered could not possibly be charged with any offence. He says the police video evidence confirms she was suicidal and in a highly disturbed state at the time so is therefore not criminally liable under Queensland law.

Pyke says the Bligh government’s claim that legal reasons require the police footage to be withheld is a lie.

Pyke says the Bligh government is employing concerning double standards, concealment, suppression, spin and lies in it’s attempts to manage the Tasering matter.

Pyke says the Queensland government has nowhere to hide and must now fully release the video footage of the Toowoomba Taser incident to all interested media and to the community.

“I call on premier Anna Bligh, police minister Neil Roberts and police commissioner Bob Atkinson to stop hiding the truth and to come clean by immediately releasing the video footage of the Toowoomba Taser incident last week,” requests Pyke.

“Even in the Joh era when a Rat Pack of corrupt senior former and serving Queensland cops installed their most junior member as commissioner, had a senior cabinet minister amongst their number as well as a ‘killer cop’ operative who murdered at least 20 people did we see such sophisticated and sinister information manipulation and propaganda as we have seen in this last week,” claims Pyke.

Peter Pyke says last week Queensland’s top cops and their Media Unit are operating in a way which damages democracy and says that for the Australian media and civil society to stand by and permit the Bligh government to act as it has and – particularly – to show the Taser video footage in-house and only to selected members of the media must not be tolerated.

Pyke says “The way the Bligh government is handling this incident is a sinister manipulation of public information which – it seems to me - strikes at the heart of our very democracy. I believe such conduct by an Australian state government is so troubling and grave, I call on Academia, Civil Society, the Media, Media Watch, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Queensland Ombudsman and the Australian Senate to thoroughly investigate all aspects of this matter,” Pyke asks.

“It has overtones which take us right back to Nazi Germany in its most scary mode,” he says.

“I call on all Australians who hold democracy dear to carefully analyse these events and to make public comment about them,” he said today.

Above is a press release from Peter Pyke, 0427 388 598,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Crooked Queensland cops escaping justice

A new "Fitzgerald" enquiry needed?

ONE definition of a pattern is "a consistent, characteristic form, style, or method" ... but anyone - police officer or civilian - looking for a discernible pattern in recent high-profile disciplinary cases in Queensland is entitled to feel disappointed and confused.

Consider two cases.

Five cops reportedly a sergeant and constables pose with a woman who flashes her breasts during the Valley Fiesta. Common element: Stupidity. Time for resolution: Six months. Penalty: Fines or pay cuts ranging from $5000 to $15,000 a year.

Six senior police, ranging from sergeant up to inspector, are accused of a cover-up at worst or procedural bumbling at best during investigations into an explosive death in custody on Palm Island. Common elements: Alleged unprofessionalism, lack of judgment and arrogance. Time for resolution: seven years. Penalty: None.

It is difficult not to wonder whether the worse the offence, the greater the potential for embarrassment and the more highly ranked the participants, the lighter the penalty in the police service.

This is the sort of hole in which the Queensland Police Service finds itself after its failure to take action against those officers whose performance helped ensure that the sorry death of Cameron (Mulrunji) Doomadgee turned into an endless saga of unresolved questions and broken trust.

That the investigation into Mulrunji's death (and the subsequent review) was so badly run and the case has taken so long to come to such a miserable conclusion is bad enough.

That the QPS is under suspicion because its own investigation into its own people revealed nothing actionable is predictable.

That there are growing doubts about the Crime and Misconduct Commission's ability to play a meaningful, constructive and timely oversight role is appalling.

That there is a breakdown between the CMC and the QPS is disturbing.

That five junior cops who demonstrated little more than naivety when confronted with an exhibitionist should be financially savaged while six experienced and relatively high-ranking officers facing infinitely more serious allegations should suffer nothing more than the indignity of "managerial guidance" is an affront to fair play.

The conflicting opinions of retiring Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders and CMC chairman Martin Moynihan available online will kill an hour or two but resolve little.

If it weren't so serious, it would be laughable. Moynihan and Rynders are still lobbing insults over the net. Moynihan remains astounded that no charges were laid; Rynders could find none to lay.

However, the police performance following Mulrunji's death was not what reasonable people would expect from experienced and streetwise officers. Events speak for themselves.

For some to claim that their behaviour (and perceptions of cosiness with those under investigation) was the harmless result of logistical realities is fairly rich given the same people saw bias in the fact that original coroner Michael Barnes had a beer with a lawyer.

Leaving aside Mulrunji and senior sergeant (now Acting Inspector) Chris Hurley, who was cleared of responsibility for his death, this case is indelibly marked by the serial failure of police and the CMC to bring any sort of closure or to deliver what most people would see as justice.

Half the world has probably given up on anything approaching justice in the Palm Island affair and the other half has joined Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson in wanting to "move on".

But it is difficult to move on when a dilatory investigation and a feeble response by the police service and a petulant CMC role leave us with the feeling the disciplinary procedure is slow to react, inconsistent and verging on the out of control.

That uneasy suspicion seems confirmed by inconsistency in several other cases: The nude runners from the Special Emergency Response Team, who copped Magistrate's Court and police service fines, suspensions and demotions; the lack of recorded action against police involved in a Queen St fracas that led to one officer receiving a court fine for assault; and the lack of public accountability for officers who remained silent while Senior Constable Benjamin Price was bashing people at Airlie Beach.

Police believe they are victimised and hamstrung by unrealistic expectations and petty oversight, while other citizens see their concerns ignored in an unedifying and legalistic spat between the police service and the CMC.

This is rapidly turning from an administrative dogfight into a pressing issue demanding a political response.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Queensland's police whitewash tribunal lives on

Queensland's police complaints whitewash tribunal of the Joh era was notorious and was finally closed down by the Fitzgerald enquiry -- but the cops have found a way to re-create it

THE failure of police to conduct a proper investigation into the 2004 death of Palm Islander Mulrunji Doomadgee at the hand of a veteran policeman will not lead to disciplinary charges, with Queensland's anti-corruption watchdog powerless to take court action against any of the officers involved.

Crime and Misconduct commissioner Martin Moynihan QC will today announce he is unable to challenge a decision by the Queensland Police Service to reject the watchdog's recommendation for disciplinary action against six officers involved in the now discredited investigations.

The decision of police Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders to reject the CMC's recommendations and instead find that the officers face only "managerial guidance" is understood to have created a legal loophole that prevents a court appeal. The CMC can seek to overturn the decision only if it is in the formal police disciplinary process.

Civil liberties lawyers last night called for an independent review of the police disciplinary process in Queensland. "The police complaints system has broken down," Australian Council of Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman said. "The need is exemplified by the fact that it has taken six years and still it is unresolved as to whether the circumstances of Mr Doomadgee's death was properly investigated."

Mr Moynihan last year warned charges would be filed directly in Queensland's Civil and Administrative Tribunal against the six officers if he was unsatisfied with the response of Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson to a CMC report into the watchhouse death. The damning report echoed the findings of Deputy State Coroner Christine Clements in slamming the initial investigation as lacking "transparency, objectivity and independence".

The CMC said Mr Atkinson needed to take responsibility for a "corrosive culture" that led to the "seriously flawed" Doomadgee investigation, and several other high-profile misconduct cases.

It recommended four officers -- who led the investigation -- face disciplinary action for alleged misconduct, with the two senior officers -- handpicked by Mr Atkinson to review the initial investigation -- also face disciplinary action.

After a series of court challenges about the report, Ms Rynders reported to the CMC in January rejecting the disciplinary recommendations and finding that the officers should only receive "managerial guidance". That decision cannot be challenged.

Doomadgee's violent death, within an hour of being arrested for public nuisance by Palm Island police boss Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, sparked riots during which the police station servicing the Aboriginal community off Townsville was burnt down. Sergeant Hurley was acquitted in 2007 of Doomadgee's manslaughter.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A wrongful conviction of a whistleblower

The Australian Federal police withheld exculpatory evidence after their laziness was exposed to the media

WHISTLEBLOWER Allan Kessing may have been wrongly convicted after critical information was withheld from his defence lawyers and never presented to the jury.

After reviewing the information that was withheld from Mr Kessing's legal team, criminologist Paul Wilson said the former Customs officer's criminal conviction "would clearly fall into the category of a wrongful conviction".

Mr Kessing was convicted in 2007 of breaching section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act by leaking to The Australian long-ignored reports revealing criminality and flaws in security at Sydney Airport.

Professor Wilson said the information that was withheld during the trial meant the conviction "appears to be based on flawed and inaccurate circumstantial evidence and, at that stage, an ignorance of the Customs investigations" into the leak.

Professor Wilson is chair of criminology at Bond University and co-convenor of the nation's first university course on miscarriages of justice. He was speaking after examining a letter about the leak that was sent from Customs to the Australian Federal Police on June 1, 2005, the day after details of the Customs reports appeared in this newspaper.

That letter, which carries a "received" stamp, was addressed to federal agent Fiona Drennan of the AFP's transnational crime co-ordination centre. It has been supplied to Mr Kessing by a person he describes as "a wellwisher".

Barrister Peter Lowe, who represented Mr Kessing during his trial, said the information in the letter could have been used to support Mr Kessing's argument that somebody else leaked the reports to The Australian.

The letter was written by Geoff Lanham, who managed the Customs internal affairs unit, and outlines his unit's investigation of the leak. He told the AFP that Customs believed "at least two" Customs officers with knowledge of the reports had unlawfully provided information to this newspaper.

The letter outlines dates and circumstances in which reporters from The Australian and another organisation, who both had knowledge of the leaked reports, stated they had more than one source inside Customs.

Mr Lowe said the letter should have been made available during Mr Kessing's trial. Had he known of its contents, he would have run Mr Kessing's defence very differently. "I would have gone in hard on the potential for a second source, that is, a source other than Allan, and that one or more people who gave evidence -- and didn't disclose it -- may have been lying," Mr Lowe said. He said the fact that Customs believed there was a second source had never been revealed.

There is no suggestion that Mr Lanham, who is no longer employed by Customs, or agent Drennan were responsible for preventing the information in the letter being conveyed to Mr Kessing's lawyers.

Professor Wilson said Mr Kessing's consistent argument that he was not responsible for the leak to The Australian "gains enormous credence as revealed by the contents of this letter".

This is the second time information that was withheld from the jury has come to light about the Kessing case.

In September 2009, Mr Kessing revealed one of the factors behind his decision not to give evidence during the trial. While continuing to deny he leaked the reports to The Australian, he said he had secretly provided access to one of the reports to solicitor Nathan Cureton, a staff member who had been employed in the Sydney office of Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, who is now Infrastructure Minister. Mr Kessing had hoped in vain that Mr Albanese would use parliamentary privilege to expose security flaws at Sydney Airport.

The meeting with Mr Cureton took place in April 2005, about two months before details of the reports were published in The Australian. Mr Kessing did not take the stand at his 2007 trial over the leak to The Australian in order to ensure his leak to Mr Albanese's office remained secret. Despite his public disclosure in 2009 of the leak to Mr Albanese's staffer, Mr Kessing has never been questioned about the incident by the AFP.

Details of the leak to Mr Albanese's office and the belief by Customs that there were two sources for The Australian's report was not available to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in December 2008, when it rejected Mr Kessing's appeal.

Judge Virginia Bell, now of the High Court, ruled that, while part of the trial judge's instructions to the jury had been wrong, this error was not enough to undermine the "powerful circumstantial case" against Mr Kessing.

Professor Wilson said the inaction by federal authorities over the leak to Mr Albanese's staffer "raises the question as to why not?" "Is there a concern that any prosecution would inevitably involve a minister in the Gillard government?" he said.

The Lanham letter reveals Customs tried to piece together background information about the leak to The Australian with assistance from the agency's corporate communications staff.

The letter shows corporate communications officer Simon Latimer provided the internal affairs unit with details of remarks made by reporter Martin Chulov on Sydney radio station 2GB on May 31, 2005, the day his article was published in The Australian. Mr Latimer reported to internal affairs that Chulov had said "information was coming to him from two Customs sources".

The Lanham letter contains details of talks between Norm Lipson, a contract journalist for Women's Day, and corporate communications officer Zoe Ayliffe. Lipson contacted her on May 16, 2005, saying he was writing on airport security and had information "from a couple of sources" inside Customs. He had asked questions about drug courier Schapelle Corby and if two reports had warned about corrupt baggage handlers, the letter says.

Mr Lanham told the AFP he believed Lipson did not have copies of the reports. But he believed Lipson had been unlawfully supplied with information about the reports by "an unknown Customs officer". The letter does not reconcile this reference to a single Customs officer with Lipson's statement he had "a couple of sources".

Mr Lanham wrote he believed Chulov and his co-author Jonathan Porter had obtained information from "at least two Customs officers", one of whom was said to have given Chulov a document. The letter has emerged as the federal government faces pressure from independents Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon.

Mr Wilkie raised the question of a pardon with Julia Gillard during a 45-minute meeting on February 8, almost 18 months after Senator Xenophon began a series of letters to Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor seeking a pardon for Mr Kessing.

Asked about the outcome of the talks, the Prime Minister's spokeswoman said: "The minister for home affairs is the minister responsible for the consideration of pardons."

Senator Xenophon's first letter to Mr O'Connor seeking a pardon for Mr Kessing is dated October 1, 2009. It said Mr Kessing was unable to pay for a High Court challenge and unable to endure the strain of more legal action. Senator Xenophon said he was "disgusted" the letter to the AFP had been withheld from Mr Kessing's legal team.

Professor Wilson said it was clear that Mr Kessing had leaked the report "but not to The Oz". "Even assuming that he did leak to The Oz, as well as Albanese, Kessing in my view is a hero -- his motives were entirely in the public interest, may well have led to changes in airport security that saved lives and exposed a potential criminal culture among some segments of personnel working at airports.

"His financial devastation for acting in the public interest and his present legal position is an appalling indictment on a government that says it respects human rights and justice," Professor Wilson said.


Monday, March 7, 2011

More police aggression during S.E. Queensland floods

Ask Atum Weber what happened to his face and he replies, "I was mugged by the Queensland Police". Mr Weber, 40, a resident of Bardon, and another friend, Scott Cooper, 38, a Sunshine Coast father of three, said they were surprised by a group of police officers while taking a late-night stroll through the flood affected area of Rosalie in the early hours of Thursday 13 January.

Mr Weber claimed police choked him to the point of unconsciousness, punched him in the kidneys repeatedly and slammed his face into the concrete footpath more than seven times during a half hour ordeal before being taken to the Brisbane City Watchhouse and being charged with 'resisting arrest' and 'assaulting a police officer'.

Mr Cooper said he was punched in the face by a senior officer after calling out for assistance. He was later charged with two counts of 'obstructing police'.

The two men and another female friend had driven to the area to check out the floodwaters after an evening spent socialising with friends. They had decided like hundreds of other 'rubberneckers' to take a look at the large pool of floodwater which inundated Nash St, the main shopping strip in the inner-western suburb of Rosalie. "We, weren't drunk, we were sober, calm – just having a good time," Mr Weber said.

"We looked at the water and talked to the cop (stationed near the flood water). It was all good, no problem, so we thought let's go home now. As I was walking along the footpath I came to a treed area (at the corner of Nash and Beck Streets) and then out of the shadows, because it was all dark, somebody grabs me," he said.

Mr Weber said he wasn't aware that the figures were police until after they had begun the alleged attack. "I was just freaked out. People were grabbing me and I say 'Can you remove your hands from me, you are assaulting me', and they go 'This isn't assault mate.' By this time I saw they were police, but I didn't really believe they were doing this without introducing themselves or without questioning us or anything else," he said.

“I moved towards a tree or a post or something, and I grabbed it because I didn't want to be hurt, so we could negotiate. I'm going 'What's going on? What do you want?'

"They kept saying 'Shut up' and 'Stop resisting'. Then this male officer pulls my hair back from behind, a big guy, and puts this forearm choke-hold straight across (points to throat) and I could tell right away he had effectively applied a choke, because it cut off blood supply to my brain, I could feel it right away, and within a few short seconds I lost consciousness."

Mr Cooper also said he didn't know who the figures shining torches who emerged from the shadow of the trees were. "There were torches and there were people and I couldn't honestly say whether they said police or not but the next thing I know they had Atum on the ground and were beating him," Mr Cooper said.

Mr Weber described coming to face first on the concrete with his hands cuffed behind his back with several officers pinning him down, with one punching him repeatedly in the kidneys.

He said he tried instinctively to stand up, which caused the officers to bend his wrists back and pull his arms upwards, causing him "extreme pain", before grabbing by the hair and pummelling his face into the ground.

"Somebody pulled my head back, while they had their knee on my back, then smashed my head into the concrete, pulling it back and smashing it repeatedly. There was also a continued rain of blows to my kidneys," he said.

Mr Weber said he had his head smashed into the ground between seven and ten times in two lots of blows by a female officer, once after trying to get up and the other when he failed to supply his name. "When she asked my name and I said 'Please, just remove the pain and I'll be able to tell you my name, I'll tell you anything you want' she goes 'Your wasting my time, tell me your fucking name!' and then she started smashing my head into the pavement some more," he said.

Mr Weber said he was kept on the ground for around 15 to 20 minutes before eventually being thrown roughly into a paddy wagon along with Mr Cooper.

Mr Weber said he plead constantly during his ordeal with the officers to stop hurting him, even asking his friend Mr Cooper, who had by this time been detained with his hands cuffed, for help. "I was sitting on the ground with my hands cuffed behind my back while Atum's being assaulted. I counted at least nine police in the group," Mr Cooper said.

"He's saying 'Scott, they're hurting me.' I told him 'I can't help you Atum, they've got me in cuffs...' I wanted to do something so I started yelling out 'Help, help, we're being assaulted!' "They told me to shut up or I'd wake the neighbours. I said 'Yeah exactly...' and yelled twice as loud 'Help, help, we're being assaulted by the Queensland Police!'"

Mr Cooper said that after yelling this that a senior officer leant down and punched him "right in the face."

Both the men said they were astonished by how agressive and "amped up" the police were, with Mr Weber speculating the alleged beatings may have been some sort of "vengeance deal" for him asking an officer they encountered earlier to show his ID.

Mr Weber said they first encountered a police officer as they turned the corner of the sidestreet they had parked on and heading towards the flooded area. "When we had gotten out of the car and turned the corner there was a man shining his torch, it turns out he was a police officer but we couldn't see anything because it was completely dark," Mr Weber said.

"I think my friend (Mr Cooper) said, 'Can you show me your ID?' It might be an unusual thing to say to the police, but that's what he said. Then the guy showed him his ID and walked off."

"Someone was shining a torch into our eyes and as far as I remember he said 'Police'. It was very dark as the streetlights were out so I asked him to show me some ID. He flashed his torch at his ID on his belt, then there was a strange pause and he walked off," Mr Cooper said. "Later on after I'd been punched one (police officer) came up shining his torch in my face and said 'Remember me dickhead?' "Then he shone his torch on his face and said something like 'I'm the officer you saw before. Not so smart now are you?'"

Queensland Police released a statement on Tuesday saying that the trio were "behaving aggressively" towards the "lone police officer". "Additional police attended and consequently two men were arrested for obstructing police. Whilst one of the men was handcuffed he assaulted a female police officer," the statement said. [Very likely!]

Mr Cooper posted a note on Facebook last Thursday detailing the allegations of abuse. He said since then a lot of people have raised the possibility that the police mistook them for looters, one he denies. "At no stage did anyone mention anything about looting. We were carrying no bags, we didn't have torches and the police found nothing illegal on us," he said.

The pair will face court in February.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Secret society for select Victorian cops

Founded by a crooked cop

Is it a lunch forum for gentlemen to wax lyrical about sport and politics? Or a secret society founded on the old police boy’s network designed to trade black market information? Differing accounts have been offered today of the workings of The Brotherhood, a secretive group of up to 350 prominent men - including police officers, state government officials and lawyers - which has been meeting in inner-city Melbourne for the best part of a decade.

In a report tabled to parliament today, Ombudsman George Brouwer paints a worrying picture of the secret organisation, which he says was established to serve the interests of its mysterious founder. "The culture of the organisation ... encourages exclusivity and secrecy, with the potential for illegal and improper exchanges of information or favours," Mr Brouwer said in his report.

He found that a police officer on The Brotherhood list used his position at the traffic camera office to wipe $2000 worth of the founder’s speeding fines.

A senior police officer may have also disclosed the identity of a prosecution witness in a high profile murder investigation during a Brotherhood lunch, in breach of a Supreme Court suppression order.

The whistleblower who sparked the ombudsman’s investigation was also damning of the group, describing it as a secretive organisation that "engages in unlawful information trading", such as criminal record checks.

But those views are hotly contested by The Brotherhood’s founder, a former police officer and now company director who compares his organisation to Apex or Rotary.

Indeed, he is now even considering changing the name of the group from the Brotherhood, with its connotations of exclusivity and secrecy, to MOGI - Men of Good Ilk.

The report says The Brotherhood began in 2003 when the founder and an unidentified police inspector arranged a function for friends and business associates. Six to eight people, including lawyers, attended the first lunch.

The group has grown since then, with about 300 to 350 people on its circulation list - including a former Victoria Police officer with alleged links to an organised crime figure, a former Australian Wheat Board executive accused of involvement in the Iraq kickbacks scandal, and the manager of a table-top dancing club regulated by the police.

Two state MPs are also on the circulation list, however Mr Brouwer said he was confident they were added without their agreement.

Members of The Brotherhood are permitted to join the group at the discretion of the founder, who is described as a former Victoria Police officer who joined the force in 1988 before resigning in 1999 at the rank of senior constable. He now works as the managing director of two proprietary companies.

His record shows he came to the attention of the Victoria Police Internal Investigations Department on several occasions for disciplinary matters.

These included an assault on a member of the public, for which he was fined $200; negligence in the discharge of duty and providing a false and misleading statement to a police inspector during a disciplinary interview, for which he was fined $150; and engaging in paid secondary employment without approval, for which he was officially admonished.

The founder claims members of The Brotherhood are "men of good ilk", and could join the group if they were a "good bloke".

Until recently, The Brotherhood met at an inner-city venue about every six weeks. The founder invited a range of people to speak at lunches to entertain and purportedly provide an insight into their respective fields of expertise.

The founder organised the lunches, he claimed, to bring "business associates and businessmen together to have a common goal in relation to business networking and business insight and business information".

When interviewed in September last year, the founder said there was "nothing at all’ in it for him.

The group was not secretive and had donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal and breast cancer research, he said, comparing the organisation to Apex and Rotary.

During lunches, he said, The Brotherhood members talked about issues ranging from sport to politics, and no unlawful information trading took place.

But a witness who attended lunches said the founder would state at the beginning of a lunch: "We’re all members of The Brotherhood and we must assist each other".

The founder admitted he told those at the lunches that ‘Chatham rules’ apply– that is, "What’s said in the room stays in the room".

Mr Brouwer said he did not believe The Brotherhood had approached the dimensions of the so-called Information Exchange Club, which was founded on the old-boy police network in NSW and was the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into the unauthorised release of confidential information by government authorities in the 1990s.

However he recommended that public sector agencies advise their employees of the risk of "attending meetings or functions of organisations, such as The Brotherhood, which are designed to support the business aspirations of the organiser or controller of the organisation".