Bugging report too dangerous to release
Police report on corruption to remain secret after study says it's flawed
THE secret police report into the widespread phone-tapping and bugging of over 110 serving and former officers was too "dangerous" to be released, the Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission, David Levine, said yesterday.
The reputations of the NSW Police Force and individual officers could be trashed if the report and recommendations by strike force Emblems were made public, the former Supreme Court judge said.
Mr Levine said while he could understand the concerns of the 114 people named in just one of the warrants investigated by strike force Emblems, the final decision to release the report should lie with NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour.
Police Minister Michael Gallacher denied this was another attempt to bury the report which he had pledged to release when he got into government.
Police Association president Scott Weber said those police officers affected felt the matter was "not being taken seriously" and rejected criticism of the Emblems investigators.
"Many of (the officers) were senior and respected police officers," Mr Weber said.
"They did their absolute best despite zero co-operation from the NSW Crime Commission and limited access to information. They were even subjected to threats of being prosecuted under the draconian secrecy provisions."
Strike force Emblems was set up in 2003 after a number of officers, including one of the now-deputy commissioners Nick Kaldas, made complaints about being bugged by the police's Special Crime and Internal Affairs unit working with the Crime Commission and the PIC in what was called Operation Mascot. The operation's leader was Superintendent Catherine Burn, another current deputy commissioner.
AN INTERNAL police report into allegations of corrupt behaviour by some high-ranking officers will be kept secret after a review found it ''fundamentally flawed''.
The decision to keep the almost decade-old report private has been criticised by the Police Association of NSW as ''disappointing and completely unsatisfactory''.
The Police Integrity Commission Inspector, David Levine, was asked by the NSW government to review whether the report compiled by Strike Force Emblems, written in 2004, should be made public.
The strike force examined complaints against officers, including the present Deputy Commissioner, Catherine Burn, while they were working in the Special Crime and Internal Affairs Unit.
The allegations include that the unit induced a criminal to breach his bail in a bid to gather evidence on a police officer and then influenced him to ''perjure'' himself under oath.
The complaints were examined by Strike Force Emblems, which also found the unit may have engaged in criminal conduct'' when it bugged 100 serving and former police.
The Police Minister, Michael Gallacher, on Tuesday said the Emblems report and its recommendations would not be released after Justice Levine found the report, and the investigation into the allegations, were of an ''unsatisfactory standard''.
''To say that [Mr Levine] has been critical of this Emblems investigation would be an understatement,'' Mr Gallacher said. He would not publicly release Mr Levine's review of the report, instead releasing the cover letter.
''This is not a question of the avoidance of public scrutiny but rather of the operation of a transcending public interest in the fair and considered protection of the good name of the NSW Police, of those who serve in it and of other members of the community,'' the letter states.
Mr Gallacher would not disclose how Mr Levine found the investigation inadequate.
The allegations investigated by Strike Force Emblems are now being investigated by the NSW Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour. Mr Gallacher will meet him on Wednesday to assess his inquiries.
The Police Association president, Scott Weber, said the officers who were allegedly victims of illegal bugging ''had the right to feel that the matter was not being taken seriously''.
''Quite simply, the PIC Inspector has failed to get to the truth of what is an extremely important issue about the actions of secretive oversight bodies that have extraordinary power,'' Mr Weber said.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said Mr Gallacher had called for the report to be released when he was in opposition ''but now he is burying it''.