Watchdog bites back at bugging inquiry

by admin on July 30th, 2019

filed under 苏州半永久

NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour has warned a parliamentary inquiry any rushed judgment could jeopardise his long-running and much-criticised inquiry into a police bugging scandal.


Mr Barbour defended his two-year probe into a controversial internal police phone tapping operation in which more than 100 officers were bugged, saying critics had failed to understand the huge scale of the investigation.

The independent public watchdog also rejected the claims of NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas that he had tried to silence whistleblowers in the 15-year-old scandal that reaches to the highest levels of the NSW police force.

Mr Barbour faced the NSW Upper House inquiry into his investigation, Operation Prospect, after criticism from police and journalists, that he was hunting down whistleblowers.

Operation Prospect is examining the handling of investigations into Operation Mascot and Operation Florida – two police internal affairs operations from 2000 that allegedly obtained warrants to bug more than 100 officers using false information.

Subjects of bugging found out their names were on warrants after receiving them anonymously through the mail.

Mr Kaldas said he was targeted by officers with whom he was in conflict.

He said the ombudsman humiliated and denigrated him during questions that focused on how he got the leaked warrant rather than any bugging.

But Mr Barbour said he rejected the claims of Mr Kaldas and other critics.

“The conclusions that they have drawn from the durations and subject matters of their own examinations are baseless,” he said.

Mr Barbour revealed that while he had questioned Mr Kaldas for one day he had questioned Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn – the team leader on Operation Mascot – for four days.

He said he did not ask the targets of bugging about how decisions to bug them were taken because they would not have useful information.

“To suggest that my inquiry is focused on targeting whistleblowers is quite simply false,” Mr Barbour said.

Mr Barbour defended the time his $4.9 million investigation has taken, saying it had accumulated more than one million pages of evidence.

He revealed that he is investigating 80 warrants in which Mr Kaldas was named, not just two that had been mentioned previously, and 52 warrants in which a journalist, Steve Barrett, was named.

He refused to tell the committee whether any officer he interviewed had claimed to have a reason for bugging Mr Kaldas.

Mr Barbour stood by his questioning of bugging targets about the leaks, however, saying the removal and distribution of confidential police records had to be investigated.

He warned the committee to not to pass judgments based on incomplete evidence, saying it could make final resolution of the bugging scandal “all the more difficult and possibly impossible”.

Mr Barbour said he would release his report in June.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione will appear before the committee on Wednesday.

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