Deborah Cornwall reported this story on Tuesday, February 3, 2015
MARK COLVIN: The New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione has been dragged right into the heart of a 15 year old police bugging scandal.
A parliamentary inquiry heard late today that he was told police investigators had been fabricating evidence against other police to try and set them up in a corruption sting.
The inquiry into the botched police investigation heard that commissioner Scipione had only just taken over as commander of the Special Crimes and Internal Affairs Unit at the time
Deborah Cornwall has been covering the inquiry, she joins me now.
Deborah, what was this late afternoon bombshell?
DEBORAH CORNWALL: Well Superintendant Brett McFadden was the last person to give evidence today and I think it is fair to say he has really lifted the stakes with his evidence because he was a former investigator working at the Special Crimes Unit at the time of the botched investigation and – so its 14 years since this happened.
But today he gave evidence that he’d warned the commander of Internal Affairs Andrew Scipione about his concerns, that the investigators were breaking the law trying to entrap fellow officers. And of course now Andrew Scipione is his commissioner.
And another of his colleagues in the Special Crime Unit at the time is now deputy commissioner Catherine Burn. And to make it even worse the second commissioner who he answers to is the best known casualty of this botched police corruption investigation, deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas.
So Superintendant McFadden really was only allowed to give evidence for a few minutes before the inquiry went into a closed hearing. But this is what he had to say about his predicament.
BRETT MCFADDEN: The issues raised thus far in this inquiry require resolution and respectfully my opinion should have been confronted, considered and finalised years ago. Unfortunately we are clearly some distance from a resolution. I am acutely aware of the seriousness and significance of the issued under consideration. I’m also cognisant that I’m effectively being placed in between three of the most senior members of the New South Wales Police Force.
Whilst this is somewhat an unusual position to be in, it does not in any way shake my resolve or otherwise deter me from providing honest, frank and accurate answers to the best of my ability.
MARK COLVIN: Honest, frank and accurate but clearly also very uncomfortable – the Superintendant there. Deborah Cornwall did we get any more details about the content of his emails?
DEBORAH CORNWALL: No we didn’t because it did go into a closed hearing. But there is a little more detail around the email from an earlier submission from journalist Neil Mercer who was actually leaked that email back in May 2013.
That actually talks about a whole range of things like Special Crime Unit officers allowing heroin dealers to keep trading in the northern beaches of Sydney, which was another method of entrapping police.
But certainly Scipione will get the opportunity to answer those allegations tomorrow because he will be in the box to give evidence.
MARK COLVIN: And that’s going to be pretty difficult?
DEBORAH CORNWALL: It’s going to be diabolical I think because we’ve already heard from deputy commissioner Catherine Burn reasserting her belief that her fellow deputy Nick Kaldas was corrupt at that time and offering to elaborate and tomorrow we’ll have commissioner Scipione explaining what – if anything – he did once he was warned about these sort of illegalities among investigators.
MARK COLVIN: Deborah Cornwall thank you very much.