Red Shirts + Grey Corruption = Whitewash
How are we to deal with miscreant Integrity units when they step outside the law?
This State has a robust and effective legal system developed since Federation. We acknowledge that there are flaws; however, the ‘system’ has evolved to deal with legal anomalies through tried practices.
Although seen by some as excruciatingly slow, nevertheless, it mostly works well for all of us, most of the time. It also has built-in safeguards to protect the innocent and victims’ rights.
In this vein, we are highly critical of IBAC and the Ombudsman’s behaviours detailed in the Operation Watts report. Not only have they broken a Law themselves, but they have also ignored the prosecutorial conventions legislated in this State.
We were astounded to find the Director of Prosecutions (DPP) has been sidelined by the Integrity Bodies, left out of the loop when considerations regarding the likelihood of prosecutions were considered.
“We have carefully considered whether the identified misconduct constituted criminal offending that should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Ultimately, the relevant offence calls for a value judgement about whether a breach of public trust is so serious that it merits criminal punishment.” – Watts Report.
The IBAC and the Ombudsman have clearly taken it upon themselves to determine a value judgement that is the purview of the DPP and the Courts, not theirs to exercise.
Whether the suspects are charged ‘a value judgement’ is a matter for the DPP, and’ merits criminal punishment’ are matters for courts of appropriate jurisdiction.
Punishment is only relevant if a miscreant is convicted. Oddly the Integrity units see the process as punishment, a very troubling misunderstanding of our legal process. A concept they exercise elsewhere is identified in these analyses.
There is also very good reason, as demonstrated by the approach of the IBAC and the Ombudsman in these cases, why the DPP exists and its role is respected.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is responsible for beginning, preparing, and conducting serious criminal matters in Victoria on behalf of the Victorian community.
The DPP is supported by Crown Prosecutors’ Chambers – led by the Chief Crown Prosecutor – and the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) – led by the Solicitor for Public Prosecutions.
The DPP is an independent statutory officer appointed by the Governor in Council. The DPP is responsible to the Attorney-General for their performance and use of their power.
In performing their role, the DPP must consider:
- justice and fairness
- the need to conduct prosecutions in an effective, economical, and efficient manner
- the need to ensure that the prosecution system appropriately considers the concerns of victims of crime. – https://www.opp.vic.gov.au/who-we-are/
Critical to this State’s legal system are checks and balances and for the IBAC and the Ombudsman to immerse themselves in ‘careful considerations’ and making a finding on those considerations is, if not unlawful, a serious breach of legal protocol. We call it a whitewash.
This arrant behaviour also highlights the role of the IBAC Inspectorate, who clearly failed to perform an effective oversight role and allowed this misbehaviour to flourish.
Given the seriousness of the allegations and the admissions made by individuals, why wasn’t the DPP consulted and its input and support sought at the beginning of the process as is best investigative practice?
It would seem that in this matter, the highest profile suspect would, according to the Integrity units, have no case to answer. A prerogative they do not have to exercise; it lies with the DPP.
What the DPP may have a lot to say about is all the other miscreants in the artifice, it would seem, will likewise not be prosecuted.
Having Integrity Units that have lost their Integrity is untenable.
If a modicum of Integrity is left with either of the two principles, they should resign immediately; otherwise, the Parliament must remove them.
More to follow.