Gold Coast corruption again: Ex-police officers sue for $2m over bullying claims
TWO former Gold Coast detectives are suing for more than $2 million in compensation, claiming they were bullied out of the police service partly because they refused to act on illegal search warrants.
The revelation came as Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson admitted the Gold Coast's "Las Vegas" lifestyle may have corrupted some local police. He said there had been concerns about possible police misconduct on the Glitter Strip for at least a decade.
Ex-Gold Coast detectives Kurt Krebs and Graham Cameron have launched legal action against the Workers Compensation Regulatory Authority (Q-Comp) after they were refused compensation for alleged bullying-related stress. They claim they were driven out of the QPS after being branded as lazy for refusing to act on allegedly dodgy warrants. They are each seeking more than $1 million in compensation.
A magistrate this week ruled evidence relating to warrants could be admitted as part of Mr Krebs' case. Q-Comp's lawyers had been seeking to have the evidence excluded, arguing the warrant issue had not directly contributed to Mr Krebs' stress. However, Southport magistrate Michael O'Driscoll ruled the warrant evidence could support Mr Krebs' claim and to refuse to admit it would be a denial of "fair and natural justice". The case was adjourned.
Mr Atkinson yesterday held a crisis briefing with Crime and Misconduct Commission officials after The Courier-Mail revealed details of a major investigation into alleged police links to organised crime and the Coast's nightclub drug scene. The Surfers Paradise police station was raided by CMC investigators last weekend as part of the CMC probe that sources said would be "the biggest corruption scandal since the Fitzgerald inquiry". More than 20 officers are understood to have given evidence at secret CMC hearings.
Mr Atkinson yesterday likened the Gold Coast to Las Vegas and Kings Cross, with "temptations" greater than other areas, and some police may have "succumbed". "With 10,000 police, obviously from year to year some will do the wrong thing. That's unavoidable," he said. While he was "terribly concerned", he was confident there was no "widespread, systemic, organised corruption" in the police service and said the vast majority of officers were honest.
Mr Atkinson said the CMC had investigated concerns about possible police misconduct on the Gold Coast "for years", but nothing had been substantiated. "I believe we've done all we possibly can," he said on the Coast yesterday morning. "Every suggestion, every claim has been fully examined." Mr Atkinson called on the CMC to "clear the air" over the investigation. He said it should be finalised quickly to avoid affecting police morale.
Police Minister Neil Roberts ruled out calling an inquiry, saying the CMC already had royal commission powers. The CMC said speculation about the scope of its investigation risked hindering the probe "and unnecessarily undermines public confidence in the Queensland Police Service". "On the basis of current evidence, some aspects of recent media reports about the investigation are exaggerated or simply inaccurate," the commission's Director of Misconduct Investigations, Russell Pearce, said.
The Queensland Police Union has thrown its support behind those officers who give evidence against police accused of corruption. A union spokesman yesterday confirmed the QPU was providing legal representation for any witnesses required to give evidence by the CMC for its Operation Tesco. President Ian Leavers said it was obvious there needed to be a thorough investigation. "It is in the best interests of police and the community that the CMC investigation is conducted in a timely manner," Mr Leavers said.