Published: 4 November 2011
The OPI report on campaign against police chief and “ministerial deniability”
The Minister and Labour Lawyer series.
Dear Minister for All Things
Ministerial Advisors - Office of Police Integrity Report
The recent Report of the Director of Police Integrity into the conduct of Detective Leading Senior Constable Weston has been the subject of substantial press comment. Weston was the Police Advisor in the office of the Deputy Premier and Minister of Police. The Deputy Premier maintains that he had no knowledge that Weston was engaged in a campaign to undermine Chief Commissioner Overland.
The Office of Police Integrity investigation did not, and could not because of the limitation on its powers, examine the conduct of the Premier's and Deputy Premier's Ministerial Staff other than Weston. What does nonetheless emerge from the OPI Report is that the role, functions and responsibilities of Ministerial Staff demands review. It appears from the Report that:
- the Premier's Chief of Staff met with Sir Ken Jones while Jones was a serving officer and, on Jones' version, was vocal in his criticism of Chief Commissioner Overland during the meeting. The Chief of Staff asserts that the meeting was consistent with his role and responsibilities;
- the Deputy Premier's Police Advisor in pursuing his own political agenda:
"Either [he] was not properly instructed in the proper limits of his role or he failed to understand or ignored the instructions he was given."
Weston is reported by the OPI as seeing his role as not compromising the Minister on the basis that "what is explicitly denied can at the same time be implicitly permitted".
It is clearly timely for the Government to review the role and responsibilities of Ministerial staff, and address the training provided. The OPI Report makes very troubling reading. The practice of "Ministerial deniability" should not extend to conduct involving secret meetings with senior public officials of the kind exposed by this report.
I note that the OPI has drawn attention to the fact that the conduct of Ministerial Staff is not able to be examined by the Ombudsman or the OPI.
The Labour Lawyer
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE MINISTER FOR ALL THINGS
Dear Lay about Lawyer
OPI Report: Ministerial Advisors
I have your letter concerning Ministerial advisors.
The process of Government requires room for confidential communications, leaks and scope for Ministerial deniability. Without them goodness knows what might be published.
The OPI Report identified a case of on the part of an advisor of which the Deputy Premier
The boil has been lanced with the resignation of Weston, the issue should be buried, we need to move on, there is much to be done in Government and we should not be distracted by a single bad egg, or a rotten apple or two. Enough is enough on this subject.
Anyway, none of this would have seen the light of day if Weston had not been a serving police officer and subject to the OPI.
That will not happen again.
Yours in denial,
The Minister for All Things