Statement on claims regarding the so-called Jedi Council - 5 February 2016
4 February 2016
Defence is aware of recent media reporting and social media commentary regarding the manner in which Defence, and in particular, the former Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, managed the so-called Jedi Council investigation.
Defence has made available extensive detail since the investigation was first announced on 13 June 2013, as well as providing a number of statements to the media. These statements are a matter of public record and are available on the Defence and Army websites.
Regrettably, some members of the media have elected to selectively represent the information provided to them. Some have also made a number of allegations in relation to how Defence managed; the investigation, the announcement, its relationship with the civilian police and the administrative and disciplinary process.
The so-called Jedi Council matter was an intensive and long running investigation. It involved a number of civilian police and military inquiries, cross jurisdictional liaison as well as the gathering and analysis of complex evidence. As is the nature of the investigative process, information uncovered and examined in the course of this investigation, the scope of inquiries, the number of individuals concerned, as well as the seriousness of the offences became clearer over a period of time.
By the conclusion of the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS) investigation into the so-called Jedi Council matter, thousands of pages of evidence were reviewed.
The subsequent disciplinary and/or administrative action concluded in mid 2014. In total, action was taken against 172 ADF members. This action included administrative and disciplinary sanctions such as censures, formal warnings and other Defence Force Discipline Act action. It also included the termination from service of 11 Army members.
It is unfortunate that some people have underestimated the breadth and complexity of the investigation and misrepresented the involvement of both current and former members of the ADF in this matter.
In the interests of balanced reporting, Defence has therefore elected to republish detail regarding the so-called Jedi Council matter.
In September 2010, Defence became aware of an allegation of unacceptable behaviour by an employee of a Defence contractor (also an Army Reservist). The alleged offence had been committed against a civilian. ADFIS formally commenced an investigation into the matter in November 2010.
ADFIS enquiries indicated potential civilian offences and in February 2011, the Victoria Police were engaged by ADFIS as per Defence policy in order for them to take investigative action. The civil criminal investigations took priority over any potential military disciplinary offences, to ensure there was no interference with the civilian police investigations.
Victoria Police referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police and final carriage of the investigation was established with the NSW Police Force in July 2012.
In early 2013, ADFIS became aware that the NSW Police Force investigation suspected two Regular Army members of alleged criminal offences (in addition to the former Defence Contractor employee and Army Reservist).
In March 2013, the NSW Police Force and ADFIS agreed to conduct a joint investigation, with the civilian police leading the criminal investigation and ADFIS investigating service offences. The joint investigation significantly broadened the scope of inquiries.
Lieutenant General Morrison was informed of the NSW Police Force (criminal) and ADFIS (service offences) investigation on 2 April 2013.
During the period between 2 April 2013, when Lieutenant General Morrison was made aware of the joint investigation, and the announcement on 13 June 2013; ADFIS investigators continued their deliberate and extensive effort to collect and analyse further evidence.
Representations that Lieutenant General Morrison was aware of the scope and breadth of the investigation 11 months prior in July 2012 are false.
The timeline of the investigation, as well as Defence’s handling of the matter, was the subject of two Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) Inquiry Reports.
The IGADF is a statutory office holder, appointed by the Minister for Defence, and sits outside the ordinary chain of command. The role of the IGADF is to independently and impartially monitor and assess the health and effectiveness of the military justice system, which includes conducting inquiries and investigations. The IGADF reports directly to the Minister and Parliament rather than to the Chief of the Defence Force or the Service Chiefs.
The Inquiry Report into the management of the investigation found that the matter was managed appropriately by the responsible Defence agencies in accordance with the relevant Defence policy. The inquiry also found that Lieutenant General Morrison was first informed of the so-called Jedi Council matter in April 2013 and that the public announcements were appropriately delayed to June 2013, pending investigation outcomes.
The-then Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force, Mr Geoff Earley, also completed a Professional Standards Review of the ADFIS investigation into the inappropriate use of the Defence computer network announced by Lieutenant General Morrison on 13 June 2013.
The Inspector General concluded that there were no breaches of the Service Police Code of Conduct and that initial ADFIS investigation in 2010 and 2011 was generally conducted in accordance with investigative practices and procedures at the time.
However the investigators' weight of effort was on probable criminal offences committed by a Reserve member in his civilian capacity rather than any potential service offences.
The Inspector General also identified that ADFIS delayed referring possible civilian offences to the relevant civilian police as investigators attempted to identify other potential victims.
With respect to claims that ADFIS lied to police about the existence of crucial evidence, the-then Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, previously sought advice from NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione. Commissioner Scipione advised that the NSW Police Force was satisfied that investigators “have been provided with all the relevant materials by ADF regarding this matter taking into account that Security Provisions may require screening/vetting of the information as of March 2013”.
Commissioner Scipione also stated that the NSW Police Force is “satisfied that ADF has not failed to cooperate, taking into account that Security Provisions may require screening/vetting of information”.
Defence considers this matter closed.