Top cop probed over sacking

Top cop probed over sacking

September 25 2008
Australian Federal Police chief of staff Roman Quaedvlieg who has been investigated over claims dating back four years.
Australian Federal Police chief of staff Roman Quaedvlieg who has been investigated over claims dating back four years.
ONE of Australia’s highest ranking police officers has been investigated by the national corruption watchdog over the bungled sacking of an undercover police officer.

Roman Quaedvlieg, Australian Federal Police chief of staff, is under scrutiny over events dating back four years, when he was at the Australian Crime Commission.

The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) began probing claims about Mr Quaedvlieg and the ACC’s covert unit in February 2007, and some of the issues flow from the failed attempt to sack one an undercover officer.

The officer was sacked in October 2004 for leaking information to a policeman about the ACC job selection process and for the alleged misuse of an ACC credit card to pay a bar bill.

The Age can reveal that before it became the subject of an integrity commission inquiry, the sacking drew scathing criticism in confidential Australia Industrial Relations Commission hearings.

In a March 2005 finding, AIRC Commissioner John Tolley stated: “The commission is forced to the conclusion that the whole of the ACC actions in this matter are so fraught with dishonesty and stupidity that the board of the ACC should review all of the human resources practices within the ACC.”

Mr Tolley also described the internal inquiry into the sacked officer as “a Keystone Cops scenario” and dismissed as baseless one of the central allegations against him.

The ACC appealed successfully against the AIRC finding, but two subsequent hearings reaffirmed Mr Tolley’s view that the sacking was unjust and that the officer should be reinstated.

The Age can also reveal that along with industrial relations hearings, ACLEI has examined secret tape recordings from 2004 that raise questions about the crime commission’s internal investigation processes.

Other events from 2004 believed to have been scrutinised by the watchdog have included a decision by the sacked undercover operative to take a dog from an underworld informer, and the use of an ACC credit card by another operative to buy a bracelet for his wife.

In May 2007, ACLEI questioned five ACC officers including Mr Quaedvlieg, a former senior manager there.

A draft report was finished in July 2007 by then federal integrity commissioner John McMillan, a month before Mr Quaedvlieg was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the AFP.

The watchdog has examined Mr Quaedvlieg’s role in the 2004 sacking, as well as whether his contact with another ACC officer – who was suspended for suspected misconduct – was appropriate. Mr Quaedvlieg is understood to have denied any wrongdoing.

Testimony given at the industrial relations hearings and evidence gathered by the watchdog suggest there were deep divisions in the undercover operations unit in 2004.

The AIRC hearings remained secret until a suppression order was lifted this year and Commissioner Tolley’s comments were obtained by The Age.

The ex-head of the undercover unit, Bob Armstrong, said the sacked undercover operative had been victimised by some at the ACC. “He was treated disgracefully,” Mr Armstrong said.

But another source defended the ACC’s actions, saying the bungled sacking was part of a broader attempt to rid the covert unit of its problems.

With the inquiry by ACLEI having dragged on more than 19 months, questions about the effectiveness of the watchdog itself have been raised.

One source told The Age that the inquiry had taken too long and its findings – likely to involve disciplinary or administrative recommendations – would have little practical effect because the alleged impropriety occurred four years ago.

Philip Moss was appointed Integrity Commissioner in July 2007 and it is believed a final report has remained on his desk for several weeks. Mr Moss said he could not comment on a continuing investigation.


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