Defence response to false allegations on Channel Seven
24 July 2013
During the 6.00pm broadcast on 22 July 2013 Seven News made a number of serious criminal allegations that the Australian Defence Force hid evidence and deliberately obstructed a NSW Police investigation. These allegations lack context and are false and misleading.
Noting that Channel Seven made no attempt to verify these claims with the NSW Police Media, the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley sought advice from NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione who advised that the NSW Police Force is 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”.
Contrary to claims that Defence initially found no case to answer, the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS) commenced an investigation into an allegation of unacceptable behaviour by a Defence contractor (also an Army Reservist) in 2010. The ADFIS investigation identified potential civilian criminal offences and ADFIS referred the matter to the Victoria Police. Victoria Police referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police and final jurisdiction and carriage of the investigation was established with the NSW Police Force in July 2012.
Police Force criminal investigations have priority over military investigations in order to avoid any possible interference with the civil criminal investigation. As such, ADFIS investigations into the allegations ceased until early 2013, when NSW Police advised ADFIS that their investigation now implicated several serving members of the ADF. In late March 2013 NSW Police agreed that ADFIS could concurrently investigate apparent military disciplinary offences without prejudice to the NSW Police investigation. In April 2013 ADFIS established a major investigation team. Although the investigation remains ongoing, eight ADF personnel have been suspended from duty pending the outcome of investigations. There is also a possibility more ADF personnel could be suspended if the circumstances warrant.
The Australian Defence Force and the NSW Police Force continue to work together on this matter.