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The Gatton Tragedy Exposed At Last. An Examination Of The Secrets And Lies.
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Thomas Seymour Story
The hearing of an action by Thomas Seymour, an ex-member of the Criminal Investigation branch of the Police Force, against Inspector F. C. Urquhart was commenced in the District Court yesterday, before his Honour Judge Parr and a jury of four.
The plaintiff claimed £200 for slanderous words alleged to have been used about him by the defendant.
Mr. E. Lilley (Instructed by Mr. J. B. Forde) appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Feez (instructed by Messrs. Thynne and Macartney) for the defendant.
Elliott Bland, joint manager of the B.I. and A.U.S.N. Companies, stated that the plaintiff was engaged as a wharf constable to the A.U.S.N. Company, and commenced his duties on 21st March. Later on the same day Inspector Urquhart called upon him, and asked if it was a fact that he had employed a man named Seymour as a wharf constable. Witness said he had. He then asked who had recommended him, and witness answered that he believed Sub Inspector Galbraith had done so, but he believed it was a departmental recommendation. The defendant asked if be knew that the plaintiff had been dismissed from the Police Force for a serious offence. Witness said he did not. The defendant then stated that the plaintiff had been dealt with by a bench of magistrates, and witness might have seen it in the papers. He added that the recommendation was not a departmental one. Witness had given instructions that any new wharf constable should be engaged under the auspices of the police, and when the plaintiff appeared with a recommendation from Sub-inspector Galbraith witness accepted his services. The defendant stated he felt satisfied that the plaintiff would not work in with the police. After that witness gave instructions for plaintiff to be dismissed.
Cross-examined by Mr. Feez: Inspector Urquhart did not give witness the details of the offence for which the plaintiff had been dismissed, but he informed witness that the plaintiff had been handcuffed and placed in the cells.
Re-examined by Mr. Lilley: He dismissed the plaintiff because he thought that he would not work with the police. The paramount point with witness was to have a man who was in touch with the police. When he saw that plaintiff could not fulfil that requirement he dismissed him.
Thomas Law Johnston, master mariner, and at present acting marine superintendent of the B.I. and A.U.S.N. Companies, stated that the plaintiff was employed as a probationary wharf constable. Prior to engaging him witness had asked Sub-inspector Galbraith to recommend him a good smart man for the position of wharf constable. Subsequently the plaintiff came to him with a letter from Sub-inspector Galbraith, and he was engaged as a probationer, at a salary of £2 10s. a week. After the plaintiff had commenced duty Mr. Bland informed witness that it would not do for them to keep him on as a serious charge had been made against him by Inspector Urquhart. The latter stated on that occasion that plaintiff had been before the magistrates on a serious charge. Mr. Bland instructed witness to discharge the plaintiff, and be did so.
Cross-examined by Mr. Feez: After his dismissal plaintiff said he would not take the billet then if it were offered to him. Witness had asked Sub-inspector Galbraith to recommend him a man merely because he happened to meet that gentleman casually.
Sub-Inspector Galbraith stated that after Captain Johnston had asked him if he knew a suitable man for a wharf constable be wrote a letter recommending the plaintiff to him. When he did that he did not know all the circumstances connected with his dismissal.
Cross-examined by Mr. Feez: He had nothing to do with the Criminal Investigation Branch. Seymour had never been under him, but he knew him by his work. On the facts, as he knew them, he thought he was justified in writing the letter recommending the plaintiff. There was an inquiry being held into witness's technical right to give a recommendation of that sort.
The letter was not written officially. It was a private letter from himself to Captain Johnston. He did not know that Inspector Urquhart's conduct in going to Mr. Bland and making the statement about plaintiff bad been approved by the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Inspector of Police. He believed it had been approved by the latter.
Henry M'Cosker, private detective in the employ of Messrs. Wm. Howard Smith and Sons, Limited, also gave evidence.
Thomas Seymour, the plaintiff, stated that he was a member of the Police Force for ten years, and was dismissed on the 3rd February last. On the 3rd March he was engaged as a wharf constable by the A.U.S.N. Company. He commenced work at 9 o'clock on the 21st March, and he was dismissed at 1 o'clock on the same day. The statement that he would not work in with the police, or assist the Criminal Investigation Department, by giving information, was not true. He never said anything to Inspector Urquhart or any one, else to lead them to believe that he would not assist that department. The result of Inspector Urquhart's action had been that he had lost his billet, and considerable injury had been done to his reputation.
Cross-examined by Mr. Feez: He was dismissed for a breach of the Police Act. He pleaded guilty to having assaulted one of his superior officers. He believed he threatened to shoot Sergeant Shanahan, the officer in charge of the muster-room, and next to Inspector Urquhart, in the Criminal Investigation Branch.
Re-examined by Mr. Lilley: He had had no personal differences with Inspector Urquhart.
This closed the case for the plaintiff.
Mr. Feez moved for a nonsuit on the grounds that there was no case to go to the jury, and that the words used by the defendant were privileged.
His Honour declined to nonsuit.
Inspector Urquhart, the defendant, stated that the plaintiff was dismissed from the police service. The actual cause of his dismissal was that he was convicted of an offence before the Police Court. The offence of which he was convicted was drunkenness, and assaulting and threatening a superior officer.
The plaintiff was very drunk and violent, and reluctantly witness had to have him put in the cells.
Plaintiff pleaded guilty before the Police Court, and was fined £2. Witness had often been consulted as head of the Criminal Investigation Branch by Mr. Elliott Bland about the work on the wharves, to detect pillaging, &c. When he heard that Seymour had been appointed as a wharf constable he was told that his name had been used in connection with the matter, and he went to see Mr. Elliott Bland. He had no ill-feeling toward the plaintiff, but on the contrary on previous occasions when his conduct had been brought under his notice was very lenient to him.
Mr. Bland informed him that plaintiff had been recommended by Sub inspector Galbraith, and witness asked if he regarded that as a police recommendation. Mr. Bland said he did, because he had sent out instructions that police recommendations were to be brought by persons applying for the position of wharf constable. Witness asked if he knew that Seymour had been dismissed from the service. Mr. Bland said he did not; that the recommendation stated that he had left the force. Witness replied that that was not the case, as Seymour had been dismissed for misconduct. He added that plaintiff had left the service on such terms with a number of the members of the Criminal Investigation Branch that he felt sure that he would not work cordially with that branch.
Plaintiff was especially on bad terms with Shanahan, who was next to witness in executive charge of the branch. What was the cause of the trouble between them he had not heard, and he never knew. His object in going to Mr. Bland was to ascertain by whom the recommendation had been given, and whether his name had been used in the matter.
Cross-examined by Mr. Lilley: He went to Mr. Bland entirely of his own accord. He found that his name had not been used. He regarded Mr. Galbraith's letter as a departmental recommendation. He did not go there for the purpose of getting the plaintiff removed. Up to February last the plaintiff's record had been a very good one.
His Honour, at the request of Mr. Feez, directed the jury that the onus of proof of bad faith in the matter did not rest with the defendant. It was for the plaintiff to show a want of good faith.
The jury, after deliberating for some time, answered questions put by his Honour, as follows:-
Mr. Feez moved for judgment for the defendant.
His Honour entered judgment accordingly, with the costs of six witnesses.
The Estimates were further considered in Committee in the Legislative Assembly yesterday.
On item-"Police, £172,478,"
Mr. BROWNE asked why it was so many policemen were required in the Southern division, while a much less number was placed in the Central and Northern districts?
Mr. DICKSON said the decision as to the distribution of the force was left to the Commissioner of Police. No instructions were issued by the department as to the concentration of men in any particular localities. The greater populations in the Southern districts necessitated a greater number of police there. Throughout the colony
there were 262 stations, and this showed that the police were well distributed. The Commissioner must be entirely unfettered, and he (Mr. Dickson) would be sorry to bind him to any hard and fast rules.
The numbers of police on 30th June last were:-In Brisbane and West Moreton, with a population of 93,200, 251; Toowoomba and Darling Downs, 61; Roma and Maranoa, 36; Charleville and Thargomindah, 41; Wide Bay and Maryborough 71; Rockhampton and Port Curtis, 70; Longreach, 65; and so on.
In New South Wales, with a population of 1.323.460, there was a Police Force of 1506, or as one to 702, the cost per inhabitant being 5s. 0½d.
In Queensland there was one police to 578, the cost being 6s. 11½d. But in considering the large extent of territory, it was found that while there was one policeman in New South Wales to every 602 square miles, in Queensland there was only one to every 797 square miles, showing that the numbers in reality were very reasonable.
Mr. GLASSEY said it was quite right for the Minister to throw the onus of attending to the Police Force upon the Commissioner, but he thought there was a very large Police Force throughout the colony. The fact that there were 250 odd men in the locality of Brisbane for 92,000 of people showed that pressure had been brought by the men to be allowed to remain in the vicinity of the metropolis. He might be erroneous in his conclusion, but it was regrettable to see such a large increase. Unless the Commissioner of Police, through the Minister, could convince the House as to the necessity for this increase of men and money, he could certainly not concur in it.
Mr. DICKSON said that the Commissioner of Police had reported that the Brisbane district had been considerably undermanned, and the men were worked to such an extent that they could not be in that state of efficiency desired. This was upheld by complaints, which had reached him from various suburbs. He gave the Commissioner credit
for an earnest effort to create a creditable body, both physically and morally, and he would not have sanctioned the small increase had he not considered it necessary.
Mr. GLASSEY said he thought it well that the Minister should have a wholesome check on the department. They were there to watch with a jealous eye any increased expenditure, and members must be observant to see that every increase was justified. In the Winton district, where they were told there was a deal of crime, and to which attention had been drawn some few years ago, there were but fifteen men, and so in other such districts. If the House agreed to grant this increase, then he would not stand in the way; but he viewed it with alarm, and particularly this perpetual amount of £500 to the superannuation fund.
Mr. SMITH did not consider that the material at hand to strengthen the force was sufficient, and the matter of suitable horses, too, should be considered. He would like to know if the wants of his district had been attended to.
Mr. DICKSON said the Commissioner in formed him that additional police had been sent to Bowen. In answer to the remarks of Mr. Glassey, he said he held in his hand reports from inspectors and sub-Inspectors regarding the deficiency of police. One from Inspector Urquhart referring to the necessity for seventy more constables. They
need not delude themselves with the idea that while new centres were developed, the force was to remain stationary. The majority of the public were law-abiding citizens; but the precautions were necessary.
Mr. SMITH noted with pleasure the appointment of a Northern Inspector.
Mr. G. THORN was sure that the distribution of police was safe in the hands of the Commissioner. He thought the population of the Brisbane district was underestimated, and it must be remembered that Brisbane was the training-ground of the force.
Mr. KERR said he understood that under this vote he would be in order to refer to a police officer who was also an electoral registrar. He would prove to the Commissioner that this officer had made a threat to a certain businessman that if he voted for him (Mr. Kerr) he would make things too hot for him. There was also the officer at Isisford acting as electoral registrar. As to his (Mr. Carmody's) capabilities, he had nothing to say; but he had refused to attest claims to be placed upon the roll. The ground for doing so was that he did not know the men the requisite number of months that they were supposed to have resided in the electorate.
Mr. DICKSON said he thought it was undesirable that charges of this kind should be made against a public officer until the officer had had an opportunity for explanation. The previous night Mr. Kerr charged men, if not with partisanship, at least with conducting themselves in a manner that would not advance public business. But before he brought his charge he ought to have let members hear what the officers had to say.
Mr. Kerr said they declined to attest; for men at Tambo.
Mr. KERR: That there was a threat against a man at Tambo.
Mr. DICKSON said if Mr. Kerr would get information he would have an investigation made. He did not think charges should be made in the House without good grounds, because it might prevent men from doing their duty. Registrars had a certain course of rules to follow. If the registrar had conscientious objections, and was satisfied, he could not be blamed for objecting. But if a man declined to attest out of spite, and it was proved, he would promise not only censure but removal. As to the Tambo officer, he understood he was only placed there quite recently.
Mr. KERR: He is only acting.
Mr. DICKSON said it was quite possible this officer did not fully recognise what were his duties. It was quite possible he might not have satisfied himself as to the applicants' claims.
Mr. KERR: I am not referring to him at Isisford.
Mr. DICKSON said he would like to hear what the other side had to say. Let Mr. Kerr supply him with charges, and he promised that the fullest inquiries would be made. But be would not censure an officer unless he knew he deserved it.
Mr. KERR said he was satisfied with the reply of the Home Secretary. The gentleman affected was in Brisbane at the present time, and he would get him to sign the complaint and forward it. He desired now to ask about the item of fencing police paddocks, in which there was an increase of the vote. Who were supposed to use the paddocks?
Mr. DICKSON said the paddocks were supposed to be exclusively kept for the police. If the police magistrate wanted to put his horses in, he had to ask permission. There appeared to be some history attached to the paddocks in the Barcoo district.
Mr. KERR said he was not particularly referring to the Barcoo paddocks; but representations had been made to him that policemen in charge of stations had allowed drovers to put their horses in the paddocks. He also pointed out that some police officers kept a large number of horses in the paddocks.
Mr. DICKSON said if this occurred it was very irregular. But the Commissioner had received no complaint about the matter.
Mr. KERR said the reason no complaint was made was that he did not know it the practice was regular. Now that he knew, he would place his information at the disposal of the Commissioner.
Mr. M'DONALD asked if it was intended to allow police officers to attest claims? In some cases there were no justices of the peace within a radius of miles.
Mr. DICKSON quoted from the Act to show the persons who were allowed to attest claims, and said he could not go outside the four corners of the Act.
Mr. DUNSFORD discussed the statement in the Commissioner's report in which he said that the percentage of the convictions to arrests was steadily increasing, and he questioned whether the reason was that the police were coping with crime. He also pointed out that the Home Secretary had not divulged his intentions with regard to Sunday trading, concerning which the Commissioner had reported the ineffective efforts of the police to put it down, owing to the organised system adopted.
Mr. DICKSON said he believed that the greater number of convictions was due to the greater efficiency of the force. He could not at present outline any policy for the suppression of the Sunday liquor traffic. He had not so far been impressed with the necessity for opening the houses for period on Sundays. Some persons would always defy the law. A system of private detectives would have a flowering moral tendency, and it had to be considered, too, whether the punishment of people found drinking in the houses could be compassed. He could do no more than say that the Government had expressed the desire that the matter should receive very full consideration.
Mr. M'DONNELL said dissatisfaction existed as to the way some of the promotions carne about. The Commissioner in his report condemned outside influence; but the position was peculiar. If cases were brought up in the House, the men suffered. Amongst other illustrations he stated that in connection with the enforcement of the "move on" clause in Brisbane, a gentleman charged with an offence had waited upon the Commissioner, and the case had been hushed up. He also spoke of the Jubilee Fund, to which, it was said, 92 per cent of the men had contributed, yet the constables were not represented on the board of administration. Another matter was the dismissal of ex-Detective Seymour. He did not question anything that had taken place in the dismissal, but the officer had always borne a good character previously. Seymour, after his dismissal, had obtained a civil appointment, from which he had been dismissed on the representations of Inspector Urquhart, and this action deserved strong condemnation. This inspector was regarded as a most tyrannical officer. An action at law had been taken by Seymour against Urquhart, but he had lost the case.
Mr. DALRYMPLE: Did he not get justice?
Mr. M'DONNELL said the evidence of the, inspector had some bearing.
Mr. FOXTON: Give us the summing up.
Mr. M'DONNELL commenced to read the whole case; but, amidst a small storm of interjections, changed his mind, and read the evidence of Inspector Urquhart bearing on Seymour's previous good character. In face of the evidence, Inspector Urquhart had acted in a manner, which merited the condemnation, at least, of the Committee.
Mr. FOXTON: He was able to defend himself very well.
Mr. M'DONNELL: But he had to admit that up to the time of the row the man bore an excellent character in the force. Public opinion in Brisbane was that the man had been harshly treated. It was the feeling of some members that a reduction in the vote should be moved to mark their displeasure at this man's action. He would not have mentioned the matter, but for the fact that the inspector had made the lives of many men under him very unpleasant it appeared, from same occurrences, that the Inspector dominated the Commissioner.
Mr. DICKSON said charges had been made under three heads, favouritism by the Commissioner, the Jubilee Fund, and the Seymour case. Mr. M'Donnell was too prejudiced. He gave credence to statements without ascertaining if there was any foundation for them. The charge of partiality against the Commissioner was unjustifiable, and he
(Mr. Dickson) resented the accusations without some foundation being shown. The Commissioner gave the matter an emphatic denial; the circumstances of the case were never brought under his notice. It was too bad that a man holding such a responsible position should be condemned merely upon rumours.
Mr. M'DONNELL: I do not advocate political patronage.
Mr. DICKSON said the Commissioner had been charged with partiality, and the charge bed not been maintained. With regard to the Diamond Jubilee Fund, the report stated that 92 per cent of the force voluntarily contributed to it. The sum collected was now in the bank. It had reached £600, which the Commissioner thought too small as
yet to make a proper start with. But the Commissioner had informed him some time ago that as soon as the fund had reached a greater amount trustees would be appointed.
Mr. KEOGH: Why did the department interfere?
Mr. DICKSON said the desire of the company had been to employ a man actually connected with the department, and it was a knowledge of this, which had led to the action of the inspector, who was not, however, responsible for what had followed.
Mr. LEAHY: Was it not the inspector's duty to communicate with the head of the department? He is not the head of the force.
Mr. DICKSON read the Commissioner's memo, to him on the matter, in which the action of Sub-inspector Galbraith was regretted and condemned. The whole thing was summarised in a memo, placed in his hands by the Commissioner that day. He subsequently offered to lay all the papers on the table. In reply to subsequent inquiries, he said Galbraith had been censured. He could see nothing reprehensible in the conduct of Inspector Urquhart; he acquitted him of any bitterness against Seymour. He likewise acquitted the Commissioner of partiality. He had conducted a difficult inquiry, and had been called upon to censure an old and trusted officer.
Mr. M'DONELL: Has Urquhart been censured also?
Mr. DICKSON said he saw nothing to censure him for. He went on to read Mr. Urquhart's application that the costs of his action should be paid by the department, and on this a report by the Commissioner to the Chief Inspector. In this report the Commissioner stated that Inspector Urquhart should have reported the circumstances to the Chief Inspector, as action ought have been taken through the department and not by any officer on his own initiation. The Commissioner stated that did he not think that the inspector had been prompted by his sense of duty, he would not recommend to the Minister that the costs be paid by the Police Department. Further than this he (Mr. Dickson) did not think Inspector Urquhart was deserving of any censure.
Mr. M'DONNELL said the last document proved that he was justified in bringing the matter forward. He pointed out that partly through Inspector Urquhart's action the results had followed Seymour since he had left Brisbane in search of work. With regard to the other case, his information, he believed, was as reliable as it could be, and he declined to accept the statement of the Commissioner. Cases were sent on to the Transit Board, of which the Commissioner was a member, and they were thereby suppressed.
Mr. DICKSON: The Commissioner maintains that the case had never been brought under his notice.
Mr. M'DONNELL said he intended to mark his displeasure of the action in connection with the Seymour case by moving a reduction in the vote. He would do so at a later stage,
Mr. KEOGH thought the man Seymour had been unjustly treated. He also maintained that members in the lower branches of the service had not received justice from the Commissioner. He did not think the promotion of officers had been carried out irrespective of influence.
Mr. DICKSON. You are bringing influence to bear now.
Mr. KEOGH said a commission should be appointed, not to allow the Commissioner and his underling to air their views, but where the men could be heard. He would not repeat the expressions of the Commissioner, Mr. Parry-Okeden, which had been addressed to him after the House adjourned for tea.
Mr. HAMILTON: You are afraid. Mr. KEOGH: I am not.
Mr. HAMILTON said the passage between Mr. KEOGH and Mr. Parry-Okeden had arisen through the hon. member saying that the Commissioner had never given men of his race or creed a show. The Commissioner had replied that if this had been said outside he would say Mr. Keogh was a liar; and he (Mr. Hamilton) thought he could not have said less. He did not think appointments should be made so much on the recommendations as by virtue of the merit of the men, and he asked the Home Secretary if he would have the papers in connection with the whole matter printed.
Mr. DICKSON: I will do so.
Mr. LEAHY regretted the introduction of the sectarian element by Mr. Keogh, and said, from a lengthy acquaintance with Mr. Parry-Okeden, be considered he was not in any way bigoted. Everyone was dissatisfied with his position, and this was not confined to the police, because many of those present thought they should be on the front benches.
Mr. BROWNE: Do you speak feelingly? (Laughter.)
Mr. LEAHY spoke of what he regarded as the injustice done to Seymour, and said he considered the regret of the Commissioner at the hasty action of Inspector Urquhart the severest censure that could be passed. The public thought that an eye should be kept on this officer, who he did not consider should hold his present position, because be was wanting in that finer human feeling which should be possessed by one in charge over his fellows. He hoped, however, that the proposed reduction of salary would not be pressed. It would be just, but pernicious in its effect, and would place the House, the highest court of the colony. In the position of a pettifogging tribunal.
Mr. TURLEY said the Home Secretary had endeavoured to excuse Inspector Urquhart while he condemned Sub-inspector Galbraith, though their actions in not having consulted their superior officer were the same He thought the injustice came in when Seymour was not allowed to show if he would work for the company with the officers of the department. He was not by any means going to say the man should not have been dismissed, but he took great exception to the action by which an endeavour was made to prevent Seymour getting a living. He (Mr. Turley) contended that members on his side did not approach the Commissioner with regard to the promotion or in the interests of members of the force.
Mr. DALRYMPLE said no one had succeeded in showing that Inspector Urquhart had been actuated by other than pure and straightforward motives. He did not accept the interpretation that Urquhart went to the officer of the company for the very purpose of doing Seymour out of his work. It was his duty to substitute a correct report for a report, which was not correct, because part of the truth was suppressed.
Mr. LEAHY: That was his duty, but he did not do that.
Mr DALRYMPLE said a man was entitled to decide in his own mind what was his duty. He held that the recommendation given by Galbraith had its force simply because that gentleman was Sub-inspector Galbraith. Had he remained Mr. Galbraith the recommendation would not have been considered. When it was found that the department was pledged on a false warrant, Urquhart was quite justified in trying to set it right. He ridiculed the idea that the Commissioner was "run" by any other man in the force.
Mr. M'DONALD said that after the last speech there was nothing for the Home Secretary but to dismiss Sub-inspector Galbraith, because it was held that he had suppressed information. He wished to know why the department had paid Mr. Urquhart's expenses when it practically censured him. Though he admitted it was not right to take up small matters, it was the only opportunity they had.
Mr. DALRYMPLE explained that he did not wish to charge Galbraith with knowingly writing a false report.
Mr. KIDSTON said the Home Secretary had censure only for Galbraith, who had possibly acted through over-kindness, while he screened Urquhart. The conduct of the men was exactly on the same plane, in having not acted through their department He considered it far from right that the department should have paid the costs in the defamation action.
Mr. GLASSEY said he thought some remarks had been made which members would on calm reflection regret deeply. Such would be the case with Mr. Keogh. It was possible that everyone had faults; perhaps the Commissioner had some. But be did not think bigotry and intolerance belonged to that gentleman. He was a humane man, and desired to do what was right between man and man according to his lights. Though the man Seymour had done wrong, he had been punished, and should not have been followed when he desired to earn an honest living. What Galbraith had done was to recommend to an old friend a former colleague. If Galbraith did wrong, it was only through good-heartedness. He appealed to the Minister to give Seymour another opportunity, and all aid and assistance to get another position. He also hoped Mr. M'Donnell would not go on with his proposal to move a reduction in the expenses to Urquhart.
Mr. DICKSON said he had already expressed his regret that Inspector Urquhart's action had brought about the dismissal of Seymour from the company; but he could not undertake to move for his readmission to the department seeing that he had been dismissed from it for misconduct, because it would open the doors to readmission of many who had been guilty of other offences. But he was prepared to inquire into the antecedents of the man, and if there was any supernumerary position in any department, he would try to get his colleagues to give him a show. This was as far as he could go. The whole circumstances were very unfortunate; at the same time he wished to maintain the discipline of the Police Force.
Mr. M'DONNELL said be was satisfied with the promise made by the Home Secretary. Acceding to the request of his Labour colleagues, he would not press his amendment further.
Mr. DICKSON, in reply to Mr. Drake, said the delay in acceptance of tenders for police uniforms was due to an effort being made to deal out justice to all tenderers It was intended to try to obtain locally manufactured cloth, with a desire to encourage local industries. There were tenders for venetian serge and khaki uniforms There was an expectation at first that the Ipswich factory would have been able to undertake the manufacture, not only of the serge, but of the venetian cloth. As members were aware, when all things were equal, the preference went to the contractor who had previously given satisfaction. On these grounds the venetian uniforms had gone to Mr. Clark, and the serge to the Ipswich Woollen Company for a locally manufactured article, and to Messrs. Pike Bros, for khaki. The police had to be consulted, because they paid for their own uniforms, and they were quite satisfied.
Mr, BROWNE said the rate of wages paid at Croydon was only 1s, per day more than in Brisbane, and this was not in accordance with the difference in the rate of living. Another thing commented on in the Croydon Press was the employment of a Chinaman to clean out the courthouse there. It was said there that the amount allowed would not permit of others being employed.
Mr. DICKSON said the employment of the Chinaman would be inquired into at once. In the question of allowances for living, he would consult the Commissioner, and if any inequalities existed he would see what could be done to rectify them.
Mr. HAMILTON said be would like to know how it was that Mr. Douglas had been appointed to the position of senior inspector of the North over the head of Mr. Fitzgerald, who was his senior in the service, and a most popular man.
Mr, DICKSON said that Mr. Fitzgerald had been removed to a position at Roma, a fine, healthy locality, as a mark of appreciation of his services, and he understood that he was grateful for the recognition.
Mr. JACKSON asked for an explanation of the application of the amount of £388 under, the head of Executive, for the "additional annual pay of men attached to the Criminal investigation Branch."
Mr. DICKSON explained that certain changes had been made by the Commissioner in connection with the older members of the Criminal investigation Branch. They were made members of the force; but at the same time, so that they should not lose their remuneration, they were granted a certain amount of pay to bring their position up to what they had before. Their future positions would not be altered so long as they remained in the force.
Mr. JACKSON asked a question as to the working of the Aborigines Protection Act, on the reference made to it in the Commissioner's report.
Mr. DICKSON said he was, informed from reports that the Act was working well, and was correcting abuses not only in connection with aboriginals, but in, the sale of opium. It was the intention of the Commissioner to visit the stations, up North and make a comprehensive report. He quoted an excerpt from the report of Mr. Meston, and said he had taken the responsibility of instructing Mr. Meston not to interfere with aged aboriginals who were in a position to get a living and remove them from their present, associations so long as they did not prove troublesome. Efforts were made, however, to see them well cared for.
Mr. HARDACRE characterised Mr. Meston's report as a romance, and not a true statement of the condition of the blacks. He said the Premier had called the Act an idiotic one, and he (Mr. Hardacre) pointed out that its working to a large extent prevented people from employing the aboriginals; but, acting on a suggestion, he withheld his further remarks till the aboriginal vote came on.
Mr. STEWART considered the vote was growing too fast. He thought that applications for police protection should be fully considered before being granted. The Committee should have particulars of the distribution of Crime and its extent in the various districts. Again, the police seemed rather anxious to make arrests. Of the arrests made, 60 per cent of drunks were discharged, 33 per cent of disorderly characters, larceny 25 per cent. There were 366 arrests and 192 discharges for vagrancy.
Mr. DICKSON said the idea of more detailed statistical information was a commendable one, and in the next report it would be given effect. He did not think that in saying they were over-policed the hon. member had considered the multiplicity of the duties those officers performed, and which could not be so inexpensively done by any
outside officers. The territorial extent of the colony should be considered, and the fact that there were only ten more officers now than there were six years ago.
Mr DICKSON said that returns and statistics were now being provided for a complete actuarial investigation in connection with this matter.
Mr. TURLEY was glad that this investigation promised two years ago was to be made. It was proper for them to know the full extent of liability, and not to go on until they might be asked to make the amount £25,000. He would be glad to know if further information was available.
Mr. DICKSON said a mass of information was required, and he wanted to obtain a report that would command the fullest confidence of the House. He questioned if they could get it this session.
Mr. KEOGH here expressed his regret at anything he might have said in a heated moment earlier in the evening regarding Mr. Parry-Okeden, who, he believed, had always carried out his duties efficiently. He was sorry Mr. Hamilton had introduced the words used.
Mr. TURLEY asked if the Home Secretary could tell them the amount which would be required if all the officers who were entitled to do so took advantage of the Superannuation Fund?
Mr. DICKSON said he had not provided himself with further information, as he had hoped to have the actuarial report.
MESSAGE FROM THE COUNCIL.
Mr. GLASSEY asked when they were likely to get the Mining Bill and other important measures mentioned in the Governor's speech.
Mr. DICKSON said they hoped to give the Mining Bill next week. He regretted that owing to the illness of the Premier they had been unable to go on with other business. But the Mining Bill was completed by this time, and required the consideration of the Cabinet before being placed before members.
At 10 55 the House adjourned till the usual time on the following day.
Once more Death claimed first attention when the House met yesterday. This time the reference was to the late Sir George Grey. Mr. Glassey tersely, but appropriately, made reference to the passing away of the eminent New Zealand statesman, who had done such signal service in the neighbouring colony. Mr Dickson followed, gracefully recognising the life's work of a man who had made his mark in the history of our time. The House got quickly into Committee on the Estimates.
Mr. Browne wanted more police or at all events he thought it desirable that there should be a more equitable distribution of what police there are. Indeed, he found them practically centred in the South, and the conclusion he not unnaturally came to was that either the Northern part of the colony was being badly treated, or that the South was a lawless area. "For which you ought to be truly thankful," was Mr. Keogh's ready suggestion. The explanation was simple enough. The population was in the South, and to prove that the numbers were reasonable, Mr. Dickson pointed out that, while in New South Wales the people enjoyed the luxury of one policeman to every 602 square miles, there was only one to every 797 square miles in Queensland. The Leader of the Opposition did not like to see the expenditure leap up in one year by £3400. In fact, to his way of thinking, there were too many police in the vicinity of Brisbane there were 250 odd men to 92,000 people-and he interpreted this fact as due to pressure brought to bear by men to be allowed to remain in the neighbourhood of the metropolis. It was, however, shown that the force in and about Brisbane had been reported by the Commissioner to be undermanned, and the Minister had been quite satisfied that the demand was well founded.
There were of course many grievances to air- Mr. Kerr had a few to add to those of the previous evening Then there were members whose districts are noted for the production of policemen, who had much to say of a parochial nature Mr. M'Donnell added the first spice, which had the effect of considerably enlivening the proceedings. He was noticeably definite in his assertions. Summarised, they mounted to these: That there was serious disaffection among the men of the force, chiefly by reason of the influence exerted in the matter of promotion, that men were afraid to give voice to their grievances, for if they did they would certainly be penalised; that the tyranny in the force was terrible; and that the Commissioner had succumbed to "high-collar influence, and had hushed up certain cases for breaches against the traffic laws. In connection with these latter there was a loud clamour for name, which at first Mr. M'Donnell resisted on the ground that the constables would be bound to suffer if he identified them. But at last he yielded to the pressure so far as to give the name of the "high-collar gentleman" who was reputed to have got on the right side of the Commissioner of Police. It was Hutton-what Hutton was not immediately apparent.
The charge elicited from Mr Dickson speech of over an hour's length in the course of it he made a strong defence of the Commissioner. He looked upon Mr. M'Donnell as the possessor of a prejudiced mind, and a man who gave credence to statements without first ascertaining if there was any foundation for them. The charges of partiality were foundationless, and therefore unjustifiable. Mr Dickson quoted voluminously from the official papers, which he offered to lay on the table, and resented as forcibly as he could the accusations levelled against Mr. Okeden. At the same time he personally expressed regret at what had happened in Seymour's case. As the debate progressed it became more heated. This was particularly the case when Mr. Keogh delivered himself. His language in respect of Mr. Parry-Okeden was more than warm, and towards the end the medium of the heat became apparent. He declared that during the tea hour the Commissioner had made use of language unbecoming a gentleman, and meant to intimidate him. Members pressed for a recital of the language complained of, but Mr. Keogh steadfastly refused to give it Mr. Hamilton, however, had no qualms about retailing it, for it seems he had been present during the row. Mr Hamilton described the scene this way: Mr Keogh and Mr. Okeden, meeting in one of the ante-rooms of the House, somebody volunteered an introduction, which was accepted. No sooner were preliminaries over than Mr. Keogh announced the fact that he was "going for" Mr Okeden after tea, adding, "You do not give either my creed or my race a show." This had prompted the retort from Mr. Commissioner "If you said that outside I would say that you were a liar." What steps were taken towards securing a repetition of the words outside did not transpire, indeed, the explanation was dropped at the most interesting and most critical point.
The criticism of Mr. Leahy was among the severe ones, although he admitted that the debate had been robbed of some of its force by a statement of the Minister that he, as well as the Commissioner, regretted what had happened, and that the latter had censured Inspector Urquhart. Still, what had occurred disclosed the fact that Inspector Urquhart was out of place. "He wants judgment and tact," said Mr. Leahy," and he wants that fine humane feeling which should animate men in charge of others, and I hope the Commissioner will keep his eye on the gentleman, for I believe he wants watching " From this out matters took a more favourable turn. Mr. Glassey paid a very high tribute to the administration of Mr. Okeden, whom he described as a man possessing humane instincts, and one in whose composition bigotry and intolerance formed no part. Concluding, he made a powerful appeal to the Home Secretary to reinstate Seymour, on the ground that restitution was warranted. Evidently this had some effect. At all events, Mr. Dickson rose and explained what he was prepared to do. He would inquire into Seymour's antecedents, and if there was nothing against him, he would endeavour, while maintaining the discipline of the force, to find him a billet, if not in the Home Secretary's Department, then in some other. The undertaking met with a general chorus of "hear, hears," and Mr M'Donnell notified that he would not pursue his stated intention of moving a reduction in the vote proportionate with the amount paid by the Government to cover Inspector Urquhart's expenses in the action for slander brought against him by Seymour. Thus a very troublesome matter came to a very happy conclusion. The remainder of the time was spent in various ways Mr. Drake, referring to the police uniform question, raised an interesting point of order or, at least, the Chairman did for him; and Mr. Jackson and Mr. Hardacre had something to say on the working of the Aborigines Protection Act; while Mr. Turley required some information on the Police Superannuation Fund. Members managed to get through by 11 p m., at which hour the police vote was disposed of, and the House rose.
In the Legislative Assembly yesterday, the Home Secretary laid upon the table of the House the papers relating to the case of Thomas Seymour.
The sittings of the Royal Police Commission were continued yesterday afternoon, under the presidency of his Honour District Court Judge Noel.
The Commissioner (Mr. Parry-Okeden) was further examined. He said that if a Deputy Commissioner was appointed, he would like withheld from him the power to make promotions, recommendations of officers for promotion, punishments over certain bounds, and dismissals; but he would like time to think over the matter. He thought the new official should be in the same position in regard to the district as the present Chief Inspector. He did not think that the metropolitan district was too large. There was a large amount of office work, and an assistant commissioner would be able to do a good deal of this. It would be well, if it could be arranged, that either one commissioner or the other was always in the office. More inspection work could be done under the new circumstances.
By Mr. Unmack: Witness and the Chief Inspector had an orderly each; the other officers had orderlies for various kinds of work, but these latter were not regularly detailed. No promotion was given to orderlies while in that position. He had never found any evils arising from the system. Witness, continuing, said officers were not allowed to inflict fines. He had never heard of a sergeant at Warwick fining a man for going to church without his uniform. The police collected the names of persons liable to serve on juries; but there was no expressed duty laid upon the officer to revise the list and see if all the persons were unobjectionable, though he presumed they would do so as a matter of course. In cases of complaints, the inspectors sometimes held an inquiry; if it was a breach of the law against the public the case was sent to the court. A man named Seymour, was brought before the court for assault upon an officer of his department; he was fined, and afterwards dismissed, under the regulations. Under some circumstances he did not believe in double punishment; but it might be shown that the policeman was not fit to be longer allowed to remain in the force. In the case alluded to, the matter came before the House; but no complaint was made against the penalty indicted by the department. He would be inclined to give the inspector in charge of a district power of punishment in the way only of censure, reprimand, and fine up to, say, £1. The Inspectors always accompanied the escorts. This was arranged for on account of the responsibility. Native police were still employed. On the present principle they were useful, and the system was working satisfactorily. Horses were purchased by the inspectors in their districts, unless he could buy them better here. It was true that the horses at the stations in Northern Queensland were in a bad state, and he was improving the condition as fast as possible, by weeding out the bad horses. There were statements of farmers' hands being "greased" in connection with the sale of horses, but he did not believe that was the case now. Officers were not supposed to feed their private horses on the fodder supplied by the department; he did not think they would do it. There were some districts in which the horses were still not too good; but this was due to want of money. There should be an increase of expenditure on horses for the outlying districts, particularly to insure the capture of criminals. The annual vote for horses was £1000. The saddles were supplied from, St. Helena, and were not always good fitting; but he considered the present system fairly satisfactory. Bicycles were in many cases now supplied to the men; there were now about thirty. They were useful in some of the country districts, and were supplied, where required.
By the Chairman: Are you in favour of the franchise for the police? -No.
The commission adjourned till 10 o'clock the following morning.
The sittings of the Royal Police Commission were continued at Parliament House yesterday. All the commissioners and the secretary (Mr. J. W. Blair) were present.
The examination of Mr. Parry-Okeden on the working of the Criminal Investigation Branch was resumed.
By Mr. Sadlier: When he appointed Urquhart to the charge of the branch he was not aware of Nethercote's seniority. The latter had never made any complaint to him, and even when he was last year raised to the rank of first-class sub-inspector he said nothing. The first he had heard of him having been previously raised to the rank of
first-class sub-inspector was when it came up at the commission the other day.
Mr. Garvin: Why was Henders removed from the branch to the general force? -It was on a letter written to Urquhart, pointing out a glaring error that had occurred in his work. He said in this that he had ordered him to the general police.
Was that not usurping powers? -Yes, that is what I have been complaining of. But under the general circumstances I approved of it. But I stated it was not to be entered on his defaulter's list. I also saw the inspector afterwards, and pointed the matter out to him. I subsequently saw Henders in my office, and offered to put him back into the branch, but he said he would rather not go.
Don't you think Urquhart was assuming the powers of Commissioner? -He was assuming powers he did not possess. But I approved of the transfer under the circumstances. Eventually the man, who refused to go back into the branch, went to Gympie, as he preferred going there to remaining in the city, and I believe he has done good work there.
Has Urquhart assumed such arbitrary powers since then? -No; but there has been a disposition.
And has he given up that, has he done anything like that since you censured him? -There has been nothing since. But I did not say I censured him I presume you did censure him? -I explained the matter to him, but I did not say, "I censure you." The police know what it means.
Witness, continuing, said he noticed that Inspector Urquhart had said he did not know why M'Quaker was dismissed. Under the Act of 1863 he ceased to be a member of the force by his own act. When the papers were sent on to the Minister they included a report that he (the Commissioner) did not propose to dismiss the man; but in the meantime he had taken a public house, and while still a member of the force he sold liquor.
Mr. Dickson: Do you think it is advisable to remove men, after they had been serving in the Detective Branch, to the general force? -Not as a general thing.
The Chairman: I gathered from your evidence to-day that even if you had known that Nethercote was senior he would not have been appointed to the charge of the branch, because he had not the discipline over his men? -Yes, I think the appointment would have been gone on with. I thought a change was desirable. The then Minister had a
great knowledge of his department and his officers, and often classified his men without reference to the Commissioner at that time. After discussion with Mr. Tozer of all the circumstances, that was the decision arrived at entirely in the interests of the force.
Mr. Dickson: Were any complaints against Urquhart made by other Inspectors? -I believe there was some trouble about Galbraith.
Did you notice Urquhart complained of not having power to go into another inspector's district and taking charge? -I judge that Urquhart wants power to go into other inspectors' districts and take charge practically.
Such a thing is perfectly ridiculous; I never heard of such a thing. It is absurd.
Mr. Garvin: Of course.
Mr. Dickson: Was not the Seymour matter the origin of all the friction between the officers? -Seymour was dismissed. An outside firm asked Sub-inspector Galbraith to recommend a man to fill the position of private detective. Galbraith wrote a letter and mentioned Seymour's name, and he got the appointment. Urquhart, instead of doing as he should have done reporting the matter to me went off and communicated, with the outside firm and caused all the trouble.
The Chairman: Took upon himself powers again? -If he had left matters to me the trouble would never have arisen, and the man would probably have been working there as a detective.
Mr. Dickson: You know Seymour lost his billet? -Yes. The result was there was an action against Urquhart, which Seymour lost.
In that notion Galbraith gave evidence on behalf of Seymour was that not the beginning of the whole trouble? -What I have detailed was the cause of the ill-feeling between the inspectors.
The Chairman: On the public point of view, don't you think such a man is likely to raise the men against the officers? -As a general thing, yes.
Speaking outside your position as Commissioner, a man would get some sympathy from his fellow-workers? -Yes.
Don't you think it would be likely to react upon the general working of these men? -Yes, as a general thing; but I think in that specific case the feelings of the detectives were against Seymour.
As a general thing it would not do to make the men work under such an officer? No.
Mr. Dickson: And don't you know it did cause a split in the camp? -No.
Urquhart and Shanahan on the one side and the men on the other? -No, I never heard of that.
The Chairman: Have you heard that Inspector Urquhart, since this inquiry began, endeavoured to get the detectives to sign a round robin saying they had no complaints against him in his control over them and his method; that they had the most loyal feelings, and so forth; and that they all, although not absolutely refusing to sign, went away without signing? -That is the first I have heard of it.
The Chairman: It has come to my ears.
Mr. Garvin: If an officer did that would you think him fit for his position? -No.
He would never be able to be independent with his men? -No.
The Chairman: Did you read the evidence of Hobday, who, without being asked by the commission, stated that Urquhart treated the men properly? -Yes.
Don't you think that was an unnecessary offer? -Yes I may say that Hobday's evidence conveyed a wrong impression when he stated he was left in charge at times.
Mr. Garvín: Don’t you think from what has come out in this inquiry that there is a spirit, of disloyalty against you and the Chief Inspector? -Yes, there is.
I should think so. Don't you think it is a matter you will probably go further into? -I should not like to say anything.
Mr. Sadlier: He must not interfere with us.
The Chairman: Don't you think all this shows the necessity for the appointment of a deputy commissioner? -Yes.-Witness said he had never heard of the C.I. Branch men having too much to do in the way of petty inquiries. He considered that the neglect of prisoners reporting when I released under the Offenders Probation Act rendered that measure a farce.
Mr. Dickson: Have not the statements published concerning the inefficiency of the Queensland police induced criminals lately to come here in numbers? -I believe they have.
The examination of Mr. Parry-Okeden for the present was concluded.
THE CHIEF INSPECTOR EXAMINED.
The commission adjourned till Monday morning.
The sittings of the Royal Police Commission were continued in the Commissioner's office, Treasury Buildings, yesterday morning. The whole of the members of the commission and the secretary (Mr. J. W. Blair) were present.
The examination of the Chief Inspector (Mr. John Stuart) was continued. He produced a return showing the number of police to population in various districts as follows:-Brisbane, 181 police, being 1 to 596 of population; Rockhampton, 29 police, 1 to 397; Townsville, 29 police, 1 to 397; Charters Towers, 25 police, 1 to 800. At Roma-street Police Station, he went on, he had 68 men last Saturday. Of these where were available for night duty, 16 constables and 5 sub officers. This was an unusually large number of men for night duty. Late at night there was only one man each on duty at the Roma-street Police Station and the lockup. There was no spare man on duty in case of emergency because there were so few men available.
The officers were strict enough in cases of irregularity, and were good men. They could do with another sub-Inspector, who could be placed on the south side, leaving the others more free. He thought it also necessary that there should be a police station established at Pinkenba.
Candidates for the force were sometimes sent out before they were sworn in but they were always accompanied by a policeman. The force was undermanned, because the population was scattered over a Wide area.
By Mr. Garvín: Sub-Inspector Nethercote was on duty in the city, where he had been for about two years. He was a thorough master of his work. He was previously in the Detective Branch for a great number of years. As far as witness knew he carried out his duties satisfactorily, and there were no complaints against him.
Mr. Garvin: Why was Nethercote removed? -I believe he was removed on the recommendation of Inspector Urquhart.
What had Urquhart got to do with him? -Urquhart was appointed inspector in the branch.
What was Nethercote? -He was in charge of the branch before.
And Urquhart was put over him. He was the senior officer? -Yes.
Then he must have been put over his head. How long did he remain after Urquhart took charge? -A few months.
Do you know why he was removed? - I believe Urquhart recommended that he should be removed to the general police because he did not require him.
When Nethercote received notice of his transfer did he send you a letter complaining of his transfer? -I have no recollection. If he sent it the letter would be among his papers. Continuing, witness said Inspector White was head of the city district, and was over Nethercote and Savage. He believed he was ten years their senior as a sub-inspector. He did not know till this inquiry that Nethercote was appointed a first-class sub-inspector in 1892. He looked it up then, and saw he had been appointed a first-class sub-inspector of police, with "Detective Branch" in brackets. He was not quite sure that Nethercote did not complain; but he would look over the papers.
The Chairman: I believe the men in the city made some complaint about not being allowed to wear khaki; about being made to wear the hot cloth In summer. Why was that? -The Commissioner thought they would look better in blue uniform.
Don't you think they are hot? Don't you think khaki would be better for them? -Yes. I think so. It does not look so dressy, but it is very serviceable. Continuing, witness said he remembered some trouble at the detective branch between Shanahan and Seymour. He was not aware that it arose over an order issued by the inspector in charge of the branch concerning uniforms, and that Seymour ridiculed it. Seymour did have some sympathisers, he believed.
Mr. Dickson: Is it not a fact that sympathisers with Seymour have been got rid of or been sent away? -I do not know who sympathised with him.
Have not a number of men been sent away, and lost their allowances, and had to break up their homes? -There have been some removals; but I presume it was for the efficiency of the force. Continuing, he said he had not been over his district for a year owing to his many duties. This was not sufficient to keep him in touch with it. A sub-officer in a district sometimes issued orders; but he was not supposed to issue orders concerning the working of the district. He was of opinion that the work in the colony had so increased that the Commissioner could not cope with it without assistance. He thought, also, the name of superintendent should be adopted, as it would do away with some confusion. He did not know whether the men read the "Police Gazette," or whether they were supplied with official note-books into which they entered particulars of crime reported. The whole of the detectives were not informed of particulars of all secret communications concerning crime, as it might be considered injudicious to do so. He had not heard of the detectives complaining of information being withheld from them. He visited the branch every night when the Inspector was away, and occasionally when he was there. No fixed time was recognised.
Mr. Unmack: It seems to me there is a want of system in the whole matter. You seem to have too much to do. Don't you think it should not be under you at all? Well, I don't know that.
It is not meant as a reflection upon you. If you cannot do all you should say so.
The Chairman: Is it not a fact that you have a three-headed duty as Chief Inspector for the A district, which you cannot properly attend to; as head of the C.I. Branch; and as Acting Commissioner when the Commissioner is absent? -Yes.
Mr. Dickson: Don't you think it is really necessary to have first-class trained detectives? -Yes.
Here are twenty-one cases of murder during the past five years, which have never been found out. Do you think the Detective Branch is able to cope with that? -I think the branch is undermanned. Continuing, witness said it might be a good thing as soon as a murder was reported in any district to have a trained detective sent up. This would make it necessary to increase the strength of the branch. He was not aware that in the statistics where one man was say charged and convicted of three offences. It was entered up as three men. The jubilee fund was kept by the Commissioner. It was proposed to start some means of recreation for the men. The men paid 1s. 3d. per month voluntarily; some men did not subscribe. The officers paid more. The fund now amounted to over £1000. Nothing had yet been done with it. There was no fixed time monthly or annually for the men to set holidays. They had to apply. He was not aware that the metropolitan police in New South Wales received one day each month and the police annually three weeks' holidays. He did not think it could be arranged for the men to demand the holidays annually as a right.
Mr. Dickson; Who transferred Galbraith to Ipswich? -The Commissioner.
At your recommendation? -I could not exactly say. I think he consulted me about it.
What was the reason? -He formed Ipswich into a new sub-district.
This concluded the examination of the Chief Inspector for the present.
It was stated that Inspector Urquhart, of the Criminal Investigation Branch, desired to contradict some statement. The officer was called.
Inspector Urquhart: I may say before I make the statement that I am proceeding entirely on the newspaper report, which may be accurate or not.
The Chairman: That is a question I asked? -Inspector Urquhart: Yes, that is it.
The Chairman: I asked if it had come to his (the Commissioner's) ears that you had asked the detectives to sign a round robin, expressing their satisfaction at their treatment. I did ask that question, but not in the form of an accusation.
Inspector Urquhart: It stated in the report that it had come to your ears.
The Chairman: Yes, it did come to my ears.
Inspector Urquhart: That makes it an accusation. I take it as an accusation reflecting upon my personal honour, I desire to emphatically and totally deny that that or anything approaching it occurred. Nothing of the kind ever entered my head n my life.
The Chairman: No member of the commission expressed any belief in it.
Inspector Urquhart: I am quite aware of that.
Mr Unmack: No accusation was made against you.
Inspector Urquhart: Where I felt it is that the accusation has gone out unaccompanied by the denial.
The Chairman: But you would have the opportunity of denying it.
Inspector Urquhart: That is why I take the first opportunity of denying it.
Superintendent Garvin: Did anything occur at all? -Inspector Urquhart: I will tell you what occurred. After Sergeant Shanahan gave his evidence some instructions were given by the chairman of the commission to Shanahan with reference to the men at the C.I. Branch giving their evidence. What actually took place I don’t know, because I was not there. But the chairman instructed Shanahan to get a memorial from the men of their grievances. He told me this, and I said. "Very well, tell the men." That is all that occurred.
The commission then adjourned till 10 o'clock the following morning.
The sittings of the Royal Police Commission, under the presidency of his Honour Judge Noel, were continued yesterday at the office of the Commissioner of Police, Treasury Buildings. All the commissioners and the secretary (Mr. J. W. Blair) were present. Ex-inspectors Lewis and Lloyd were also in attendance.
Inspector Fitzgerald asked to be allowed to make a further statement. He said he had not considered Sergeant Quilter was unfit for duty in connection with the Mitchell murder; but what he complained of was that a man who had been under him should have been asked to take over work that he was then engaged upon. He also commented on the evidence of the Commissioner in connection with the statement that the two men, M’Quaker and Grimshaw, had too much power at Townsville when he (Fitzgerald) was in charge there. He pointed out, on the contrary, that he had recommended that M’Quaker should be disrated; he was a man for whom he had the most unmitigated contempt, and he asked if it was likely that he would allow him to have power over him.
Inspector Fitzgerald asked permission to question Chief Inspector Stuart. The latter stated that he did not remember Fitzgerald asking him (when he went to Townsville to hold an inquiry in connection with the Tweedsdale cases) to delay the inquiry for a few moments until he secured some telegrams from the Commissioner, which would probably make him come to a different decision. He was not aware either whether Fitzgerald had at that time any mining interests in the district.
Ex-inspector Lewis gave evidence concerning the working of the force in Brisbane from the time of his appointment. He said the detective branch was formed in 1864, when three or four men were selected from the general force. Up to 1893 he had only two sub-inspectors in Brisbane; that was not enough. He considered there should be at least three sub-inspectors in North Brisbane, two for day and one for night duty; and two sub-inspectors on the south side. At no time in his experience was the force in Brisbane efficient in point of numbers of officers and men. The difficulty did not arise from want of recruits, but from want of money.
The Chairman: Can you say whether political influence was ever used to have men promoted over others of equal intelligence and ability? -There was no influence ever brought to bear upon me, because I would never listen to it.
Did you hear of it? -I did hear that attempts were made.
Were complaints made by men passed over? -I don't think I ever had a complaint from men.
Had you not absolute proof of influence brought to bear? -I have heard that influence was frequently brought to bear, and that men were promoted; but I have no personal knowledge.
Did you believe this? -I believe the influence was brought to bear; but whether it was acted upon or not, I don't know. Continuing, witness said he would not recommend a change in the present system of promotion and transfer of men. He did not think a board would manage matters better than an upright, conscientious head of the Police Force. He thought the Detective Force should be under one officer independent of the head of the city district. He held with the system of drafting men from the ordinary Force; but he would not reject men of particular aptitude, even if they did not exactly come up to the physical requirements. He believed that an officer in charge of the city and suburban district would have sufficient work without having to inspect outside stations. He had followed the practice of recommending men for promotion on account of their smartness, irrespective of their age. In this way a better class of men would be secured, though he recognised that many otherwise estimable men would have to be passed over.
Mr. Dickson: Nethercote was under you in the Detective Branch. What is your experience of him? - He was a most excellent man. I picked him, knowing he had served in the English police, and he turned out an estimable man.
Was he in charge of the detectives before you left? -Yes.
Did you consider him the most able man in the force? -In the position he occupied, yes.
What was Henders like? -He was a good man.
He was gazetted in September, 1892? -Oh, I left on leave in 1892. Witness, continuing, said he did not believe in detectives wearing uniforms or disguises. His experience was that the better men were known the more information they got. He had, however, sometimes got outside men to go on special work, such as shadowing criminals.
The members of the commission discussed with Mr. Lewis the question of men making complaints against officers, and whether they would not suffer afterwards.
Mr. Lewis's idea was that grievances would come out at some time if they were well founded: but he could not see what course would be followed other than sending the complaints through the inspectors to the Commissioner.
Mr. Garvin: I want to ask you about Nethercote. You were the officer in charge of detectives, and ho was the responsible man to you? -Yes.
How long was he in that position? -I think about five or six years.
Were you in daily intercourse with him? -Yes.
From your knowledge of him during the time he was under you, did you find him a trustworthy man? -Most trustworthy.
And had he command of the men under him? -Yes I would not have kept him there if he had not.
Was he a good disciplinarian? -Yes.
During the time he was under you, had you ever any reason to suspect he did not keep the men in their proper places? Never; and I visited his office at all hours.
Did you look upon him as a man thoroughly fitted for the position he was holding? -Yes. I know it is always a difficult matter for a man who is promoted and kept on the one station to deal with the men as a stranger would deal with them so far as discipline is concerned; but I always found he did his duty.
Did the detectives always show him proper respect? -Yes.
The Chairman: Were there any crimes of any importance during his subordinancy to you? -Yes.
Did he have any failures? -My memory cannot take me in that direction. Witness, continuing, said he had never, until the sittings of the commission commenced, heard anything of blackmail in connection with the detective force. He thought it might be well to cut the colony up into three divisions under superintendents, with
inspectors under them.
Mr. Lewis said he did not know that the commission could help him; but he would like to mention a matter. He might have performed his duty well or ill while he was in the force. He was not going to say anything about that; the Commissioner (Mr. Seymour) was the best judge. When he left he was the senior Inspector of the whole colony. On the 1st July, 1892, the officers raised to £400, while he was left at £385.
The Chairman: Because you were going to retire?
Mr. Garvin: Did you ask the reason? -No.
You ought to have done so.-I thought the Commission should know. It was done for a reason.
Mr. Garvin (a member of the commission) said he would like to add to his former statement some particulars concerning the Sydney force, supplied by the officer in charge. The number of police employed in the city and suburbs was 728, and the population approximately was 420,000. The district was divided into eight divisions, varying in area and population. Approximately there were twice as many men on duty at night as in the day. The statement dealt in detail with the duties of the police. It stated that the system worked admirably, and there was rarely a hitch. The return attached showed there were nineteen officers, including five acting sub-Inspectors.
The commission then adjourned till 10 o'clock the following day, when ex-Inspector Lloyd will be examined. Sub inspector Nethercote's examination will probably follow.
The sittings of the Royal Police Commission were continued at the office of the Commissioner of Police, Treasury Buildings, yesterday. All the members of the commission and the secretary (Mr. J. W. Blair) were present.
Sub-inspector Nethercote's examination was continued.
By Mr. Garvin: The present uniformed force in the city was not sufficient for the proper carrying out of all duties. The present strength at Roma-street was sixty eight, all told, including three plain-clothes constables. The number should be increased by at least sixteen men. In South Brisbane district there were forty-one men all told, including one plain-clothes constable. There ought to be a slight increase, say ten men. There was no officer stationed at South Brisbane. There should be an inspector and two sub-Inspectors.
By Mr. Sadlier: The thieves mostly congregated in the lower parts of the city, such as Albert-Street. When Sub-Inspector White took charge of the city from Sub-Inspector Urquhart the officers had a conference for the purpose of introducing a better scheme in the city; but in consequence of the Gatton murders it was upset.
By Mr. Dickson: The district was too large to be properly inspected by the sub-Inspectors under the present arrangements. If it was cut up into divisions it might be better arranged.
By Mr, Sadlier: It would be well if points were fixed on each beat which men must reach at stated times.
By Mr. Dickson: it a serious case was reported to him he would take immediate action, and then report it by telephone to the C.I. Branch and the Inspector. Neither the Chief Inspector nor Sub-inspector Urquhart had telephonic communication with his residence. He did not consider the C.I. Branch was strong enough when he left.
By Mr, Sadlier: He did not hear officially of the Gatton murder on the day of its discovery; but he heard of Murphy's telegram after the man had left for Gatton.
By Mr. Dickson: When he handed over the Detective Branch to Urquhart, Henders was a member of it. He was about the best man in the branch then. King's work would also show he was a real good man. While Grimshaw was with him he was the best man the branch ever had. Seymour had been a good, steady man; and he was surprised to hear of the trouble he got into.
Mr, Dickson: What was the opinion among the detectives of Seymour's treatment? -They thought it was harsh.
The Chairman: He was brought before the police court and fined, and then afterwards dismissed from the service.
After being fined, and though he was such an old detective? -Yes.
By the present Commissioner? -Yes.
Mr. Garvin: What was the charge? -Assaulting his superior officer; he was fined
Mr. Dickson: Do you know if he pleaded guilty? -Yes.
Do you know he pleaded guilty on the recommendation of Urquhart? -I heard so.
Did you hear that he did it because he was told that if he pleaded guilty nothing more would be heard of it? -I heard so.
Mr. Garvin: He worked with you for some years? -Yes.
He was a steady man before that? -Yes; I always thought him almost a teetotaller.
Do you know that he was afterwards employed by some steamship company? -Yes.
Have you ever heard that Mr. Urquhart went to the manager and told, him how Seymour had lost his position? -I heard it; but I cannot give you facts.
And he was put out of employment through Urquhart's interference? -Yes.
Mr. Dickson: What was the origin of the ill-feeling between Shanahan and Seymour? -I don't know. Continuing, he said he knew there was ill-feeling between the two, and he thought it arose over a case at South Brisbane, where Seymour inquired into the facts and reported them, and Shanahan went out and made the arrest. Seymour thought this was unfair. He did not know what brought about the assault, as only the two men were present, he understood. Sub-Inspector Galbraith gave evidence at the case in the District Court between Urquhart and Seymour, and he was afterwards transferred to Ipswich. He knew there was ill-feeling between Galbraith and Urquhart. Galbraith had often complained to him of his treatment. He would, however, rather not say any more concerning the affair.
By Mr. Unmack: The men since he left the C.I. Branch had never approached him to complain of the present management of the branch. He would not encourage such complaining.
Mr. Dickson: How was it you were removed from prosecuting? -The Commissioner said it would be better in the interests of the force that I should go to Roma-street Station and learn general police duties.
Did you wish to be removed? -No, I always took a great interest in it; and I preferred to stay.
You were complimented by Mr. Pinnock as being the best prosecutor he had had before him? -Yes.
Who was put in your place to prosecute? When I was taken away we took it in turns.
Mr. Savage prosecutes when he is on day duty, and I prosecute when I am on day duty. Sergeant Shanahan prosecuted in the C.I. Branch cases, Legal assistance would be useful in important cases; but not many cases, so far as he saw, broke down.
Mr. Dickson: Is it a fact that while you were under Urquhart you were working against him? -No.
Had he any reason to believe you were working against him? -He could not possibly have. I worked with him. If he ever came in and asked me to assist him I always did it to the best of my ability. But I don't feel aggrieved at him being put into that office.
Mr. Garvin: Did Urquhart ever report you? -Yes ; He reported me recently.
Did he when you were in the Detective Branch-after he took charge? -I don't recollect it.
What were you reported recently for I am sorry I mentioned that. I would rather not say. It only happened a few days ago.
Mr. Unmack: I think you had better press that question.
Mr. Garvin Tell us what he reported you for-? -I called up at the office the other day to see the "Government Gazette." Mr. Urquhart was not there, and I could not ask him for it. I asked one of the clerks. Afterwards Mr. Lloyd came to me and asked me to get for him the pay of the men who were in the Detective Office during the time he was there. I went up and asked the chief clerk to give it to me. I did not think I was doing any harm, as he wanted it for the purposes of the commission. Mr. Urquhart then reported me for giving information out of the office without reference to him.
Mr. Sadlier: Was he in the office when you went there the second time? -No.
Mr. Garvin: Was it your intention to ask him if he was there? -I would have asked him.
Did you go there with that intention? No. I did not think I was doing any harm.
The Chairman: I should not think it was any harm for an officer to look at the "Gazette" ? -I did not think so.
Mr. Unmack: Is it a breach to go and get information from the "Gazette"? -It might be considered a breach to get information from the books.
Mr. Sadlier: What do you think of it, looking at it now? -I think I ought to have asked him.
Mr. Unmack: You could have got the information from another office? -Yes.
Mr. Garvin: You could have got it out of the Blue-book if you had looked at it? -Yes.
This concluded the officer's examination.
MR. MELDRUM'S EVIDENCE.
By Mr. Sadlier; There was room for improvement in the arming of the men in his district. He had represented the matter; but not lately.
By Mr. Unmack: The general orders issued were entered up in a book; but were not indexed. At his station the "Police Gazette" of New South Wales was received; but not the "Gazettes" of any of the other colonies. The local "Police Gazette" was filed; a copy was sent to the police station for the men to read. He believed they did read the "Gazettes." It might be a proper thing if the officers had power to compel the men to read them.
By Mr. Garvin: He would have power to compel men to enter up particulars of crime in a proper book. He thought the New South Wales book supplied to the men was a useful kind.
The commission adjourned till 10 o'clock on the following morning, when Inspector Meldrum will be further examined.
SUB-INSPECTOR GALBRAITH'S EXAMINATION.
Mr. Dickson: How did it come about that you were removed to Ipswich? -I don't know.
Was there not friction at the time between you and Urquhart? -Yes.
How long had it been existing? -About a year.
What gave rise to it? -We personally did not get on well together.
What did it arise over? -Probably because I did not do my work in the manner Mr. Urquhart liked.
Did you endeavour to assist Mr. Urquhart? -In my police duties, certainly.
Did you work against him? -Certainly not.
The Chairman: Were you connected at all with the Detective Branch? -No.
As a matter of fact it has come to us incidentally that you were mixed up in a matter when a detective named Seymour was dismissed. Was that what led to the friction? -Yes.
Mr. Garvin: Was there not something in connection with a letter supposed to be concocted in the Detective Department? -Mr. Galbraith said there was a man named Seymour who had been in the Detective Branch in Brisbane. He had known him for some years, and thought a good deal of his work. He was dismissed for a breach of discipline. A friend of his, Captain Johnson, asked him if he could recommend a man to him for work on the wharves. At the time he did not. Subsequently, while at the Supreme Court, he asked one of the detectives if he knew a man for a position he knew of. He mentioned Seymour's name, and in answer to questions said the man did not drink. He asked the detective to send Seymour to him; and he then handed him a letter couched in friendly terms, addressed to Captain Johnson, and stating that the man was a good detective, and had been dismissed over row with his sergeant. He did not then know all the circumstances. The next he knew was a letter from Seymour, stating he had been dismissed, and Johnson subsequently informed him. He was then reported by Urquhart. (The reports were read.) He did not recognize at the time that he had broken a rule. The book of regulations was vague in its terms.
Mr. Sadlier: I have broken that rule myself. I suppose you were not severely dealt with? -Oh, no; I was treated with the utmost consideration.
Another report made by Mr. Urquhart was read.
Mr. Unmack: Pretty stiff, isn't it?
Mr. Sadlier: When were you transferred? -In December.
By your own wish? -No.
Mr. Garvín: Do you know anything about a letter being concocted in the detective branch? -Yes.
Where is that letter? -I have not got it now. It is not a letter; it is only part of a letter. I received an envelope addressed to my house at Kangaroo Point. It contained pieces of paper, and I pieced them together. It was portion of a report against me for having given information in the Seymour case to an outside person. It was only by deduction that I knew how the letter was written.
Did you know the handwriting? -Yes.
What did you do with the letter? -I had the letter in my bedroom, and when I was transferred to Ipswich I lost the letter.
And you knew in whose handwriting it was? -Yes; but I should like to mention to the commission that the letter was written a long time ago, and unless you really wish it.
Mr. Sadlier: Do you make this a personal complaint to us? -No.
Mr. Dickson: Do you want the contents of that letter kept back? -The contents of the letter cannot be given, as I am the only person who knew what was in it. I could only give the contents from memory, and this might be in a biased form.
Was the letter true? -No.
Mr. Garvín: Who wrote the letter? -The letter was written by Sergeant Shanahan.
Was that report ever put officially before you? -No.
Mr. Sadlier thought the questions would cause trouble among the officers in the force.
Several of the commissioners thought, however, that they should be pressed.
Mr. Garvín: Here is a subordinate writing about him, and I think we should know of it.
Well, you know Shanahan wrote that report? -Yes.
Was any portion of it true? -No.
What was the report, so far as you recollect? -Witness said the whole report was a complaint in connection with a conversation with a chemist. He had been in the chemist's shop talking to the proprietor, a man he knew out West. After he left, he found out subsequently, a detective went in, brought up the conversation he (Galbraith) had had, and then wrote out a report of the conversation he had had with the chemist about the Seymour case. This was a copy of that in Sergeant Shanahan's handwriting. It had been torn up.
Did it state what you had said to the chemist? -It stated this and that and the other. I was very much annoyed about the matter, as there was not a particle of truth in it.
Several documents bearing on the matter were read, and the commission went on to examine the witness on other matters, among others several for which he had received some kudos. He said there were complaints made in his district concerning men being promoted over their seniors. There had been cases where men were promoted without reference to him.
Witness was being questioned on individual cases when the commission adjourned till 2 o'clock the following day.
The sittings of the Royal Police Commission were continued yesterday afternoon at the office of the Commissioner of Police, Treasury Buildings.
Sub-inspector Galbraith was further examined with reference to his unpleasantness with Inspector Urquhart.
Mr. Dickson: Did you find out that Mr. Urquhart had gone to Mr. M'Dermott, the chemist, and asked him to sign a letter concerning the conversation that took place before between you in reference to the Seymour case? -Yes.
Do you mind telling us what took place? Witness said he went into M'Dermott's shop as he was passing and had a yarn with the man. Who was known to him for some time, M'Dermott mentioned the Seymour case; but he (Galbraith) said he could not go very much into it, because it was subjudice, or something to that effect.
The Chairman: You are perfectly convinced about that letter you received, as far as you could see concerning it? -Yes.
Was it a draft of a report? -Yes.
Mr. Dickson: I understood you to say that that report was in Shanahan's handwriting? -Yes.
He has seen what you said, and he denies it.
Are you sure it was his handwriting? -Yes; I may be able to produce it when I go home.
Mr. Sadlier: There was another trouble that arose between you and Urquhart once when you met in the street? -Yes.
He was looking for you, and when you met you had some slight misunderstanding? -I am not seeking to say anything about this.
You wish to know, do you? Yes. -Well, yes, it is so. I have not seen the papers in that matter.
The papers went back to Urquhart? -I never saw the papers.
Inspector Urquhart (who was present): They did not go back to me.
Mr. Sadlier: There is a minute here signed "Urquhart."
Inspector Urquhart: I don't remember that. I may, possibly, if I saw the papers. (After looking at papers:) Oh, yes.
Mr. Sadlier (to Inspector Urquhart): Did you read that to Mr. Galbraith? Inspector Urquhart: No.
Mr. Sadlier: Is not that a breach of the rules? -Inspector Urquhart: No, not in the face of the instructions of the Chief Inspector.
Mr. Sadlier (to witness): I am not going into the merits of the case. You did not know anything about the paper? -I don't know anything about it. I did not know I was reported.
Mr. Unmack: Is not it a rule of the service that men should be informed of reports? -I was not informed of that. It allows a want of discipline.
Mr. Garvin: Is not it a rule that reports should be handed to the men? -Yes.
In this case it was not done? -No.
Mr. Sadlier: I should like a portion of that read.
Mr. Unmack: I should like to read it myself.
I am perfectly astounded.
The Commission decided that the reports should be read.
The Chairman read, first, a report by Inspector Urquhart, dated July, 1898, stating that while at the court the C.I. Branch men were asked by Sub-inspector Galbraith if there was to be any objection to bail in a certain case. They said yes. He said, "By whom." They said, "By Sergeant Shanahan." Galbraith refused
to take instructions from Shanahan, saying he wanted them from the officer of the branch. Urquhart’s report went on to say, "I did not see him in the office; but he caught me up in the street, and asked me if I wished to see him. I mentioned the matter of bail, and asked him if he had spoken to the men as above, adding, if he had done so it was not the proper thing to do.
The sub-inspector's tone, words and manner were most offensive and defiant throughout, and the spirit of ill-will and opposition towards me animating him was so plain that I feel it is impossible that I can ever treat him with cordiality or confidence, and I urgently press for his removal from this sub-district, so that I may no longer be embarrassed by an inimical and subordinate officer working immediately under me, whose vanity will not allow him to serve quietly and properly under a man whom he openly regards as his junior in years and inferior in experience."
On this report there was the following minute, addressed to the Chief Inspector by the Commissioner:- It appears to me that the sub-inspector has a right in any matter affecting his duty to expect that instructions should, reach him as from his inspector.
If in any such cases as the one under notice general instructions were issued to the sub-inspectors by the inspector that his wishes (in cases where questions of bail from time to time arise) would be made known through Sergeant Shanahan, I feel sure trouble would be avoided."
I cannot believe that Sub-inspector Galbraith was objecting because of any personal ill-feeling against Sergeant Shanahan, for he has previously spoken in the highest terms of him, but rather because he felt it was due to him to be instructed by his superior officer. I consider he was entitled to expect it. It is not right to say he should be guided by the C.I. Branch unless he was generally instructed as to particular action when occasion arose for him to act. As to the unfortunate feeling that exists between these two officers, I deplore it: Men are likely under the circumstances to quarrel. I cannot help it. I have told them they owe to the service and to me forbearance.
I do not think there is any justification for pressing, as the inspector does, his strong views of the case in the manner he has done. I have not spoken to Sub-inspector Galbraith. I have judged entirely by this report. I must have more proof that Sub-inspector Galbraith is what the inspector says he is before I can believe it. I do hope this bitter personal feeling will be buried."
Mr. Garvin: Would it not be a wrong thing for a superior officer to take instructions from a subordinate? -Certainly. I had and have very strong view: on the subject.
Mr. Sadlier: To return to the Seymour case.
There was an inquiry held. I think the Commission found against you? -Yes.
He found you guilty of intentional suppression of evidence? -That is hardly the fact. The Commissioner did not adjudicate on the case. He sent it on to the Minister, and his minute is anything but that. And when the Commissioner stated that I made wilful misrepresentations I sent a letter in which I denied it.
The documents connected with the matter were read.
These showed that the Commissioner had considered Galbraith guilty of the intentional suppression of evidence; that he thought his memory had been defective; and that he should have admitted his fault instead of trying to justify it.
The Minister's minute read:-"I concur with the Commissioner's finding, except that I think Galbraith wrote his letter without weighing the construction that might be put upon it. I don't regard his letter as an intentional suppression of fact; but I regard him distinctly in the wrong in making any recommendation without consulting his superior officer.”
Galbraith, in his letter, denied having intentionally suppressed any evidence.
This concluded his examination.
Francis Kelly, an acting sergeant stationed at Ipswich, who joined the force in 1870, appeared to complain about not getting promotion. The commission went thoroughly into the case, and into the circumstances of a letter, which had been received from the man. This letter, it was thought he had been very unwise to write. It also appeared that his education was defective, and as the result of the questions, the chairman stated that it did not appeal to him that any claims had been put forward for promotion over the other men at the recommendation of the commissioners, the witness destroyed the letter he had written.
George Fay, an acting sergeant at Ipswich, said his grievance was that he had not been promoted, and that some juniors had been unduly put over his head. He had made repeated applications for transfers from Ipswich to Brisbane, on account of illness in his family. He complained that some of the applications had never reached the Commissioner The Chief Inspector had minuted his application that he did not consider it bona fide. Witness expressed the opinion that the reason he did not get removed to Brisbane was because he was not a Mason.
The members of the Commission, judging from their remarks, did not seem to consider that the witness had been badly treated.
Henry Grimshaw, an ex-detective, gave evidence of having been connected with the C. I. branch in Brisbane and Townsville, and certain of the work he had done. He stated he was dismissed in the early part of this year, after an examination by the Commissioner into a charge of taking a bribe to allow Chinamen to gamble. He complained that, in the first place, the Commissioner held a private inquiry against him, at which he had present a number of Chinamen. After witness had stated matters concerning the inquiry.
The Chairman asked: What do we understand that the Commissioner suppressed letters? -Yes.
The Chairman suggested that the witness should put his case in concrete form in writing, and the Commission then adjourned till 10 o'clock on the following morning.
The commission inquiring into matters connected with the Police Force continued its proceedings yesterday. All the commissioners and the secretary (Mr. J. W. Blair) were present.
Robert Slattery, ex-sergeant of police, who joined the force in November, 1871, and left in April, 1897, complained that previous to leaving the force he was three times refused leave-twice while the Chief Inspector was Acting Commissioner and once while the Commissioner was back in his office. He had previously intimated his
intention to resign from the force, and wanted the leave preparatory to doing so. No reason was given him for the refusal, and he did not ask because he would get snubbed. It was his experience lately that he would get snubbed; but it was not so under the old regime. In fact a person dare not ask questions now. Witness also complained that about three months before he left the force he had to go outside his district by request of the Commissioner to
deliver a private message. This was to inform a lady that a gentleman wished her to dine at his house that evening. This caused him to leave his station without any one in charge. His opinion, too, was that men were frightened to do their duty. Before he left the force at was not the rule on other stations to allow the men time to work up cases; they had to do that in their leisure time. Witness, however, used to allow it on his station.
Courtenay Spry, a justice of the peace, thought it was desirable that there should be a solicitor to prosecute in the police courts' instead of a police officer-somebody who knew the law. The bickerings that went on between the police officer and the solicitors considerably interfered with the cases. He had not, however, reported a specific case to the Commissioner. There was a tendency on the part of prosecuting constables to keep back things. In various instances he had asked the Police Magistrate to insist upon the evidence, but had been refused. In fact, he had been continuously fighting the Police Magistrate over the matter. Again, he did not hold with the system of trying to influence the opinions of magistrates by exhibiting previous convictions to them.
The Chairman: It seems to me to be a matter for the Home Secretary to issue instructions to the Police Magistrate.
The Chairman: That is a matter for the bench themselves.
Mr. Unmack: You mean to say that constables have not sufficient experience of their proper duty? -Yes, that is it.
The Chairman: You think the police show a tendency to exaggerate charges? -There is not the slightest doubt about It.
Do you think there are more inexperienced men in the force now than before? -Yes, they seem to have less experience.
The calibre of the men is just as good, except that they have not the experience? -Yes, they have not the tact, which is a great thing.
Mr. Sadlier said that in Melbourne serious cases were conducted by professional men.
Mr. Garvin said that in Sydney an officer of the Crown Law Office prosecuted in important cases.
Constable Cassidy, of the C.I. Branch, said he was one of the officers who were instructed to inquire into the movements of the man Wilson. On the 15th December he received instructions, and inquired at the shipping companies' offices, railway stations, and other places.
Mr. Unmack: Could you have made diligent inquiries? You know subsequent inquiries showed that Wilson left on the 12th? -I may not have met the parties.
Give us the reasons.-The parties I met the on 9th January I may not have seen at all before.
Mr. Garvín: Did you not see them? -I don't believe I did.
Mr. Unmack: Should you not have seen all of them on the 15th? -I didn't know these men were employed on the wharves.
Did you just go to the wharves and ask a few people about? -Yes.
Do you consider, looking at the matter now, that you did all you could? -I consider I made a thorough inquiry at the time.
I don't consider you did when you did not ask the people on duty? -I know I did all in my power to get the man.
Why did you not ask the constable who was on duty on the boat when she left that night? -he knew about the matter as well as I did.
Mr. Garvin: When you knew Wilson left Ipswich on the 10th did you not trace all the steamers that left after that date? -We did as far as possible.
The Chairman: Did you not go to the wharfinger and the gatekeeper? -No
Don't you think that was what you should have done? -I consider I did all I could at the time. You must remember that I had other matters on hand at the time.
Mr. Garvin: You ascertained that the Rockton left at midnight on the 12th, and that Wilson left the hotel on that day. Why did you not ascertain if he left in the boat? -I don't know.
Why did you not ascertain from the officer on duty? -I considered then I had done all in my power to trace the man, and I do now.
The Chairman: When did you first receive the photograph of Wilson? -On 9th January.
Were you aware that on the 28th December the photograph was received at the C.I.
Mr. Unmack: The photo, was issued in the "Gazette" on 28th December.
The Chairman: What galvanised you on 9th January? -I received the photo in the office.
Mr. Garvin: If your inquiries were as thorough on the 15th December as on the 9th January would you have discovered that Wilson left on the 12th? -I cannot say.
Do you not see the "Gazette" on the day it is issued? -I could see it if I wanted to.
Do you not look at it at once? -I do not have the time always.
Do not the men always look at the "Gazette" as soon as it comes out? -They do not, I assure you.
Well, we'll take your answer? -You will have to.
Mr. Unmack: And I dare say he is not far out.
Mr. Garvín: On the day the "Gazettes" come out do not the police see them? -Well, one or two men may see them, and the others perhaps not till the next day. It is not compulsory.
Do you ever take extracts of offences committed in other parts of the colony, and put them in your note-book? -No, except I knew the man.
Mr. Garvín: Do you consider these men, leaving out Seymour, who was dismissed, were superior to these here? -Yes, better than any of them, including myself.
From experience? -Yes.
Where are these men? -King is at Bundaberg, Henders at Gympie, and Stringer at Maryborough.
Do you know anything about a report written by Shanahan to Mr. Urquhart that was torn up in the office and you took and gave to Galbraith? -Am I to disclose the name of the man who gave it to me?
The Chairman: If you do not care you need not answer.-I certainly say that I delivered a report to Galbraith; but I decline to disclose the name of the man who gave it to me.
Mr. Dickson: In whose handwriting was it? -Shanahan's.
What was it about? -It was with reference to a conversation between Mr.
Mr. Garvín: Were you ever asked to sign a "round robin," and did you refuse to sign it? -What was that?
Mr. Garvín read a statement to the effect that the men were asked to sign a document with reference to the Seymour case, and commenting favourably on Inspector Urquhart? -I remember signing something like that to defray the expenses.
Did you refuse? -I hesitated for a time; but I was told by Constable Fowler who brought it in that if I did I would not be called upon for any expenses; it was simply for Parliament, as the estimates were coming on.
Was any threat made that if you did not sign this something would happen? -No. I was told it was merely a matter of form. Still, I did not like the idea of it.
The Chairman: Well, this was not a truthful document to place before Parliament. It did not voice your feelings? -No. It bore our signatures, but it did not show our feelings.
Mr. Dickson: What was in your mind if you did not sign it? -I thought perhaps I would be sent away.
You felt you were compelled to sign the thing, and you did not like it? -Yes.
Mr. Garvin: Well, tell us the matter. What was it? -As near as I can get at it, it was this:-About 7 o'clock on "a night" there were four or five of us In the muster room. Fowler brought this document in. It read something after this: "We, the men of the C.I. Branch," or something like that, "I approve of the action taken by Inspector Urquhart in the Seymour case"; and, of course, we offered to pay any damages that might be given against him at the trial, and the document was also to discount the scurrilous reports going about. As I said, I hesitated about signing it; so did King and Stringer. Then Fowler turned round and said, "You will not be asked to pay, as it is simply to be presented to Parliament, as there will be a row over the case. It is just to show our loyalty to the Inspector." Then I signed it.
Mr. Dickson: Did you approve of Urquharts’ action in the Seymour case? -No.
Then you signed a thing you did not approve of ? -Yes, it was a matter of policy on my part.
Mr. Garvín: You need not have signed unless you liked? -No; of course not.
Mr. Unmack: Didn't you think it was a serious thing in the way of interfering with discipline? -I didn't look at it in that light.
You thought you could not afford the money to pay the damages? -Yes. And I considered also Seymour was hoisted out of the force in the first instance. I thought it was like persecuting my own mate.
Mr. Garvin: Do you mean to infer you were persecuted in consequence of not having signed this? -I felt I was under a cloud.
Mr. Unmack: Now? -Yes.
Mr. Garvin: What makes you think that? Well, I sympathised with Seymour, and I always felt people kept away from me.
Is it only a suspicion, of your own? -It is a suspicion of my own.
Mr. Unmack: An instinctive feeling that you were not looked upon with favour? Yes.
Mr. Dickson: You are the last of the batch of sympathisers with Seymour? -Yes.
And you did not know when your turn next would come? -That is it.
Mr. Sadlier: Is there not sufficient in your conduct in the Wilson case to justify the officers having a poor opinion of you? How do you make that out? -Well, in not tracing Wilson. Here is the Commissioner's note on your report of 9th January, expressing wonder that, with inquiries, Wilson should have been so easily traced, when the matter was overlooked before? -I know this, that I was once called a fool by the Commissioner when I simply carried out instructions issued by my sergeant.
Was that in this case? -No, on another occasion.
The Chairman: Did you ever ask to he put into the C.I. Branch? -No; I was sent there by Inspector Lloyd.
You have no special leaning towards it? -No.
Did you ever express a wish to leave? Yes, I applied three years ago, and I was told by the present Commissioner that he could not afford to lose such a good man.
Mr. Sadlier: You see what he says in his I report? -There were other men engaged on the case as well as me.
Mr. Garvín: That statement in the report applies to other men besides himself.
The commission then adjourned till 10 o'clock next morning.
The proceedings of the Royal Police Commission were continued yesterday.
Paul Marries, manager at Maryborough for Messrs. Win. Howard Smith and Sons, stated, that he went with M'Cosker (wharf constable at Brisbane for the firm) to the C.I. Branch to report the loss of fifteen bags of flour. He corroborated M'Cosker in the testimony that Sergeant Shanahan was rude and abrupt in his demeanour. The impression witness got was that there was no disposition to take any action from the "pooh poohing" ideas and the manner in which M'Cosker was received.
Constable John Rockett deposed that he was on duty on the night of 12th December when the man Wilson left by the steamer Rockton. He went on to the wharf shortly before the boat left, but he did not see the man. He was not instructed to watch who arrived and left by the boats. He was not asked till that morning anything about the departure of the boat.
Constable Fowler, clerk In the C.I. Branch, said he was the originator of the "round robin" in connection with the Seymour case. He spoke to one or two of the men, and they acquiesced.
What did you do it for? What had it to do with you? -I cannot exactly remember now.
Why should you want to present a document to Parliament? -Such a thing never entered my head. I wanted the thing done quietly without going outside the office.
You wanted to get money? -We wanted to show our practical sympathy.
What for? What had it got to do with you? -Nothing actually to do with me; but my idea was to show our sympathy in a practical manner.
Do you deny that several of the men hesitated and refused at first? -Well, I drew the document up and took it up to the muster-room, and read it out. I asked them if they had any objection to sign it. Cassidy said he had no objection; but it was a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence with him. King repeated this, and then I said
I would not ask them for money if it came to the point
Then you do deny that Cassidy gave the proper facts? -I deny that anything was said about Parliament, or that it was intended to go to Parliament.
Mr. Dickson: What was the wording of the document? -It was an expression or sympathy with him in the serving of the writ, and that the men if necessary would show their practical sympathy.
Did it say anything about "We approve of your action in connection with Seymour"? -No.
How did it run as far as you can remember. "We desire to sympathise with you.”
In what? -This trouble arising, and that we would be prepared if necessary to show our sympathy in a practical manner, and to subscribe any damages given against him.
Did they subscribe? -No, it was never required.
How many signed it? -Every man in the office.
Was it shown to Mr. Urquhart? -It was given to Mr. Urquhart the next day, and he told Sergeants Johnson and Hobday, who presented it to him, to tell the men that he wanted to see them. He met the men and told them he did not see his way to accept it, as it would place him in an invidious position. He asked me next day if I was the originator, and I said yes. He told the men never to do anything of the kind again, as he said it was not desirable, though he thanked me for the motive.
I may say also that one of the men said to have been persecuted by being sent away from Brisbane. Constable Miller came to me and expressed disapproval at not being asked to sign.
Mr. Dickson: Why should Cassidy say it was to be presented to Parliament. Do you think it is an invention of his? -I do not know what it is.
Mr. Unmack: You have been nine and a half years in the service? -Yes.
Didn't you know that what you intended to do was against all the lines of discipline in the force? -I didn't think of it at the time.
Was your motive not to curry favour with Urquhart? -Certainly not, he censured me afterwards.
That was afterwards. Didn't you want to curry favour with him? -No; I never asked a favour of an officer yet.
Was this not working for it in a round-about way? -No.
Have you been promoted since? -?No. I have applied, but did not get it.
You have never shown your sympathy with another officer? -The occasion never arose.
Have you ever heard of any other case in the force? -No.
This was quite a fresh start in the management of the police? -I did not consider it had anything to do with the management of the police.
Don't you believe it is something to do with the management of the police in placing the officer under an obligation to you? -The officer knew his duty better than to allow it to be done.
Didn't you bring up a thing that would force every man in the office to sign it? I cannot see it.
If Urquhart accepted the round robin and saw several names missing, what would be the result? -I don't think there would be any harm.
Mr. Dickson: Did you sympathise with Seymour at the time? -Yes.
Why did you not get up a round robin and express sympathy with him? -I don't know, I am sure. Witness went on to say that Cassidy had given as one reason why he did not want to sign the document that it would be persecuting his mate; but this was not consistent with his after actions.
Sergeant Walsh, who had served some time at several places in Northern Queensland, but was now stationed at Breakfast Creek, Brisbane, suggested that the police should be allowed to wear khaki uniforms; that the –differences between the allowances to sergeants and senior-sergeants should not be so great; that the franchise should be granted to the police: that extra allowances be given to men serving in the North and West; that a man who had completed thirty years in the service should be allowed to retire without undergoing a medical examination; that men who had reached the rank of sergeant should be entitled to some consideration in travelling, by being allowed to travel first-class; that the Queensland police be placed on the same footing as the police in New South Wales as regards salaries and allowances.
Sergeant Harlan, who had also served at Charters Towers, agreed in the main with the previous witness. He also thought that inspectors should have power to fine up to a certain extent, provided that men were allowed to appeal to the Commissioner. He approved of the lines of the Jubilee Fund. So far as he knew, the country police did not object to pay to the fund.
Sergeant O'Sullivan, of Roma-street, who had also had country experience supported to a large extent the evidence the two previous witnesses. He considered that sergeants, where possible, should not be allowed to take cases out of the hands of constables when they were being brought to a successful conclusion; and that cases of arrests by sergeants should be very closely inquired into. He did not hold with the remarks of Mr. Spry, J.P., the previous day, in his reflections upon the police, because he thought, they would prejudice the minds of a jury. Further, he thought the prosecutions in the police court in country places should remain in the hands of the police, and that the prosecuting officers should be placed on the same footing as the opposing solicitors. At present the solicitors could make what remarks they pleased about the prosecution and the officer could not reply.
The commission then adjourned till Thursday morning.
The proceedings of the Royal Police Commission were continued yesterday. All the commissioners and the secretary (Mr. J. W. Blair) were present.
Sergeant O'Sullivan, of Roma-street, was further examined in connection with an arrest in 1895, when the reward was given to other officers, and his (O'Sullivan's) efforts were not recognised.
Inspector Britton's representation on the question was not shown to him, and if it had been the matter might have been put forward in a different light. What he impressed upon the commission was that arrests by sergeants should be more closely inquired into, and where several persons were concerned in an arrest the statements of
all the men should be considered together before rewards were given.
There should also be an understanding between the heads of the police department in different towns and the local authorities as to the granting of licenses for cabs.
At present, though some cabmen bore a bad character, their licenses were renewed.
There was also too much conservatism on the part of sergeants, and the men under them were not given an opportunity of learning the whole of police work, more particularly clerical work.
Where men lost their lives in the course of their duty their efforts should be recognised, and the gratuities granted should be shown in the “Gazette." At present the police knew nothing of what was done.
He also thought that in travelling by boat an officer should not be forced to place his wife and children in the steerage among all classes. He had only recently come to this part of the colony, and what struck him was the different attitudes of the public. In other parts the police seemed to be much respected; in Brisbane it was different.
In the Rockhampton district, since Inspector Meldrum took charge, there seemed to be no cause for dissatisfaction.
He had heard complaints from the Mitchell district, but he understood the matters had been rectified. So far as he knew no objectionable practices on the pant of members of the force were being carried on. Where he had been in country districts the found the public trusted the police.
The Chairman: Well, I have had seventeen and a half years' experience, and I don't agree with you as far as the North is concerned.
Asked by Mr. Garvin, O'Sullivan said he had not expressed a wish to come to give evidence; but he had not come at the request of any official of the Police Department.
Mr. Sadlier, as an old police officer, complimented the three sergeants-Walsh, Harlan, and O'Sullivan-on the manner in which they had given their evidence.
Sergeant William Grant, attached to Roma street Police Station, suggested that no one under the rank of acting sergeant should be in charge of a station, and that stations should be classed. He favoured giving the franchise to the police.
First-class Constable Thomas Head, of the C.I. Branch, said he was one of the constables instructed to search for the man Wilson. He received the instructions on 15th December to make inquiries at the railway stations, which he did. Then he took up the duties of inquiring at the wharves. He inquired on the 17th of the wharfinger at the Adelaide Company. This was the man who subsequently recognised Wilson from the photograph. When asked subsequently way he had not recognised Wilson from the description the man said he did not think it was the man wanted, and that he took the crippled boy for a professional whistler. On 28th December witness first saw the photograph of Wilson, and took it to the Adelaide Wharf; but the man who subsequently identified it was not then at the wharf.
In connection with the report of a conversation about the Seymour case said to have been held by Sub-inspector Galbraith and a chemist named McDermott, and about which considerable evidence had been taken, Constable Head volunteered the statement that he had written the report.
He was passing the shop and the chemist called him and informed him of the conversation he stated he had held with Sub-inspector Galbraith. He thought it his duty to report it to his officer. Inspector Urquhart had a conversation with McDermott, but said the man did not want to he drawn into the matter. The Inspector said the matter could drop, and tore the report up. He (Head) did not say that what the chemist said was true.
A man named Linehan, who described himself as a keeper of a shooting gallery, was called in connection with a letter he had sent in to the commission, in which he stated that it was said that when Mr. Parry-Okeden became Commissioner he and Mr. Stuart resolved that no more Irish Catholics should be received into the Police Force. It was also said that Irishmen were punished more severely than Englishmen or Scotchmen; that there was little chance of promotion for an Irish Catholic unless he joined, the Masonic lodge, and thus became a traitor to his Church and God.
The witness said he was informed of these things “on good authority," but he refused to give names or substantiate the charges in any way. The Chairman pointed out that unless he did so the commission could go no further in the matter.
Mr. Unmack pointed out the seriousness of making such charge without substantiation, and said if the commission had not called the main he would go about and "blow" that the commissioners were afraid to face the matter.
Constable Cassidy: Constable Fowler has stated in his evidence that he was the originator of the "round robin." He admitted he asked me to sign it, and he said it was not wanted for Parliament. I would ask Fowler to produce the document.
The Chairman (to Fowler): Have you got the document? -No. It was given to the two sergeants to give to Inspector Urquhart, and I don't know what became of it.
Cassidy: If I am telling a lie, I am only repeating his words I would ask that King and Stringer be called.
Fowler: I am not going to say Cassidy is wrong. It was never intended to go to Parliament.
The Chairman:-He says you said so. Then I deny that point blank.
Cassidy: You were censured for getting that up. Is that on your defaulter's sheet? -I don't know.
You were promoted after this? -I don't know.
Were you recommended by Inspector Urquhart as being a good clerk, typewriter, a bandsman, and as now learning shorthand? -I don't know, I'm sure.
You might remember learning shorthand? -Yes.
Where? -At the Technical College.
In whose time did you go? -I very often got an hour off in the evening.
Yes, and I used to have to stay in and do your work, while there were cases on the sheet that I could not attend to.
How many men were kept in to let you go? -I don't know.
Was not my work more important than yours? -I don't see it.
Were you in court once when Mr. Pinnock commented on your work as a policeman? -Yes.
What did he say? Remember it and put it with Mr. Urquhart's recommendations? There is no comparison between the two.
Cannot you remember what he said? -He commented on my action in arresting a man for wife desertion, and wanted me to say a thing I would not say.
He wanted you to swear a lie? -I would not say that.
Did you ever take part in another matter at the branch, where two gold and silver match boxes were presented, to the solicitors who defended Mr. Urquhart? -I did not have anything to do with it.
Did you subscribe to it? -Probably I did.
You know whether you did? -I will say I did.
At all events you know such a thing was got up? -There was such a thing got up.
If any man did not consent to pay for it what would happen? -The man would be in the same position as before.
Do you think he would stand in the same position? -Yes.
He would not be singled out and made a scapegrace? -No.
All would be in harmony? -Yes.
I think you have been as well treated as anybody.
Mr. Sadlier: You are finding fault with him for subscribing? -No. I am simply asking if such a thing occurred.
Was not a document tabled? -There was no document other than that presented to the commission.
Was my signature on it? -No.
You remember going round asking for signatures -I think the whole of the men held a meeting and came to certain resolutions.
Mr. Sadlier (showing a paper): Is that the document? -Fowler: Yes. -Cassidy: I never saw it.
Mr. Sadlier: Where were you at the time? -Cassidy: I was at the branch.
(To Fowler): Did you go round and ask any one to sign it? -I may say that the men held a meeting and discussed the matter. One proposed and another seconded that this memorial be got up. I typed the memorial and took it to the men.
It was taken to you, and you said you were satisfied with the evidence given by Urquhart and Shanahan. And that if I was wanted I could be called? -Yes.
What did you mean when, you said my action (in being afraid to refuse to sign the round robin) was not consistent with my after actions? -You did not sign in connection with the Jubilee Fund. I always looked upon you as an independent man.
Do you know a letter carne for me while I was away at Mount Morgan and was lying in the pigeon-hole? -I saw it was there.
And you know it is now missing, and has never been seen since? -Yes.
Of course I am not charging you with stealing it.
Mr. Sadlier: What is the reason you are asking him about it? -Cassidy: I merely wish to show it occurred.
The Chairman (to Cassidy): You were one of the men who made inquiries in connection with the loss of flour by W. Howard Smith and Sons? -Yes.
When you were asked to take action were you asked not to recognise M'Cosker-(the firm's Wharf constable)-in the matter? Yes, by Sergeant Shanahan.
For what reason? -No reason was given
The commission then adjourned till the next day.
The Police Commission took further evidence yesterday.
The Chief Inspector Mr. Stuart) was examined in connection with the leave applied for by Sergeant Byrne. It appeared that when Byrne asked in Brisbane about his leave he was told to go back to Toowoomba to make his application without the Chief Inspector making inquiries concerning the original application. He said he took that course in the interests of the service, knowing there was a scarcity of sub-officers at Toowoomba.
In answer to Mr. Unmack, Mr. Stuart said he was not prepared to recommend the refund of the needless expense to which Byrne was put.
Mr. Unmack: Well, I am. And I think you ought to pay it out of your own pocket. -Chief Inspector Stuart: I don't. Discipline is discipline.
Sergeant John Henders, now in charge of the police at Gympie, but previously in the C.I. Branch at Brisbane for nearly fourteen years, gave evidence concerning his transfer, pointing out that he saw a man he knew to have been a convicted thief going into the grounds at Government House. The man said he was employed there, and of this he informed Inspector Urquhart. He did not make inquiries to see if the man's statement was true, because he expected to get instructions from his superior. It appeared that the man was employed at Parliament House. Later Inspector Urquhart was very angry about the statement of the man being employed at Government House, and witness was removed. During nearly twenty years' service he had never been before a superior for an offence. He never knew the reason he was removed. It was against his wish that he was removed. He lost 2s. per day by the transfer. He would like to come back to Brisbane, and would go to the C.I. Branch were it not for Sergeant Shanahan. He would not like to work with him.
The witness's record sheet was produced, showing there was nothing against him. In the remarks Inspector Lewis stated in 1892, "A good detective, and well-conducted man." In 1897, Inspector Urquhart said, "A poor detective, but a well-conducted man,"
Witness said his name was mentioned connection with the Seymour case, but he had nothing to do with it. He was senior as a sergeant to Shanahan when transferred.
First-class Constable Stringer, stationed at Tinana, stated that he was fifteen months in the C.I. Branch. He applied for his transfer because he was the one who had mentioned Seymour's name to Sub-Inspector Galbraith for the position of wharf constable, and in consequence of the attitude of the men he was afraid an injury would be done to him. Witness also contended that when the "round robin" was presented by Fowler for signature it was stated it was meant for Parliament. Next day Inspector Urquhart thanked the men for the spontaneous offer, and said the department would probably pay the costs, but if the worst carne to the worst he would gladly take advantage of the spontaneous offer of the men.
The Chairman said, in justice to the Commissioner, the papers should be read. These showed that Inspector Urquhart, alluding to Stringer's action in the Seymour case, said Stringer was either a rogue or a fool, and he recommended his transfer. The Commissioner minuted this, "I don't agree with this at all. So far as I can see,
this language is not justified. There is no just ground for this sudden transfer."
Seymour was drunk on the day of the quarrel with Shanahan, however. Seymour had expressed himself previously as much aggrieved with his treatment by Shanahan. On one occasion Shanahan took upon himself to make an arrest when Seymour had reported there was sufficient evidence to make an arrest.
In answer to Constable Fowler, witness said it was possible his transfer from Barcaldine to Brisbane was made through the intervention of Shanahan after request from Cassidy.
Replying to Cassidy, witness said he had posted two letters to him to the C.I. Branch in September. Cassidy said he had never received these, which made three he had missed.
The Commissioner of Police (Mr. W. E. Parry-Okeden) was then called.
Mr. Unmack said he wanted some evidence on the matter of the reported removal from Gatton to Brisbane of Constable Christie, and his transfer from the mounted to the foot police.
The Commissioner said Inspector Urquhart wrote saying he had no further requirements for Christie at Gatton. He was then transferred to the depot at Brisbane.
He (the Commissioner) had always associated the depot with mounted men, and he was surprised to find that Christie, during a press of work, had been put on street duty for two days. He had not been transferred from one place to the other. The removal from Gatton was in the interests of the service, and was not as a punishment. Christie had disclosed his work in his evidence, and there was consequently no further use for him on special duty as a plain-clothes man. His (the Commissioner's) action was one he would have taken on his own initiative, after the evidence given.
He always looked upon Christie as a good man.
The Chairman read the letter written by Inspector Urquhart concerning Christie, stating it was dated the day Christie, gave his evidence before the commission.
In the case of Sub-Inspector Garraway, who had rejoined the force with this title, the Commissioner said he was prepared to enter on the papers that the man was not eligible for promotion, as it would not be justice to men who were a much longer time in the force.
Questioned on the Wilson and Hill cases, the Commissioner said he was absent in the North up to 23rd December; but on looking over the papers he had commented on the failure of the police for the time to trace Wilson.
In regard to the reported necessity for detectives at Mackay, witness showed that there was a detective stationed there. He also pointed out that steps had been taken, to secure forbearance on the part of the police, particularly young constables, towards the public.
In regard to the "secret" communication said to have been sent to the Inspector concerning Stringer, the press copy of the letter, which was sent by the Chief Inspector was produced before the commission rose. It stated that Stringer and Acting Sergeant King were intimate, and the inspector was asked to arrange so that they should not be stationed together. Stringer contended there was no justification for this action.
The commission then adjourned till. 10 o'clock the next day.
The Commissioner was, however, a gentleman of very varied experience in the colony, and had established a reputation for broad intelligence and probity. In spite of this, we think he started with a very heavy handicap, in so far as that by evidence that has incidentally come before us, there was a great deal of latent discontent throughout the force. The Commissioner was bound at the outset of his administration to rely on the senior officers to a very great extent, and unfortunately took into his confidence officers who, in our opinion, gave very injudicious advice, and assumed overbearing demeanours both to the public and to the members of the force. This, no doubt, reacted on the Commissioner, and a certain amount of odium fell to his lot. From what has fallen from the Commissioner during the period of this inquiry, it is apparent to us that the Commissioner has learnt a great deal about abuses of which he was entirely ignorant, as he trusted too much to the representations of his officers. Most, if not all, of the sub-officers and men that have given evidence before us have expressed their confidence in the Commissioner's high sense of justice.
A majority of the Commissioners think that, with the assistance of an efficient deputy commissioner appointed from outside the present force, as recommended by us, and by the adoption of other suggestions made by us, he will prove himself fully competent to discharge the duties of his office with advantage to the public and to the satisfaction of the members of the force.
Chief Inspector. -The Chief Inspector is an officer of very lengthened service, but is unfortunately, in our opinion, out of touch with his duties. He also has a harshness of manner and roughness of demeanour, which unfit him for the very important position that he holds. His memory is very defective, and for this reason, if for no
other, we think the Chief inspector has to a great extent outlasted his usefulness as a senior officer of police.
We would recommend, therefore, that the Chief Inspector be granted leave of absence, with the understanding that he shall retire at the end of his leave, on such terms as may be arranged between the Government and the Chief Inspector.
Inspector Fitzgerald. -The inspector was deprived of his seniority rank, and, in the face of his very long services, and acknowledged good work done, he was naturally much incensed, and still smarts under what he considers an injustice. We therefore recommend that he be restored to his seniority rank. Inspector Urquhart. -This is an officer of cultivated intelligence, but of such an impulsive and exacting temperament that he is not suited for the very delicate work which detectives have frequently to do.
We think a mistake was made in placing this officer at the head of the Criminal Investigation Branch, when he admittedly had had no training in that special kind of work. Although loath to hurt the feelings of an officer who has probably been sincerely desirous of loyally performing his duties, we are unanimously of opinion that, if an appointment of equal status and pay to that of his present office could be found for him in the civil service, it would be of advantage to the discipline of the force and the nubile.
Inspector Nethercote. -It is quite clear that this officer was deprived of his seniority by an error, and, although this error was subsequently rectified, it was not so rectified as to place him where he should be as regards his seniority to four other officers. We therefore recommend that he be promoted so as to place him in his proper position. In common fairness we are of opinion that the sub-inspector should receive the pay he was deprived of by the error.
Sub-inspector Garraway. -We are satisfied with the Commissioner's assurance that the sub-inspector's appointment will not take effect as against members of the general force in reference to promotion, but that the sub-inspector will be restricted entirely to the duties of an officer of native police.
Sergeant Edward Johnson. -This sub officer has been severely punished by reduction in rank and by transfer to another district. We have come to a different conclusion from the Commissioner and the honourable the Home Secretary in this case. This, of course, was not till after very minute inquiry and exhaustive discussion. The punishment was inflicted because it was considered proved that the sergeant had wilfully endeavoured to deceive the Commissioner by untruthful evidence.
We are of opinion that that charge has not been substantiated. We think that six months should not have been allowed to elapse, for any reason, before the inquiry was held. We think that the sergeant, who had twenty-five years' unblemished reputation, would have been sufficiently punished by a reprimand for the very trivial offence to which he pleaded guilty. We therefore recommend his restoration to his previous rank. In any event, we think this matter should be deemed closed, as far as any further proceedings against the sergeant are concerned. We recommend that the sergeant receive the back pay he would have been entitled to had he not been disrated.
Sergeant Shanahan. -As we have already pointed out, the disruption in the Criminal Investigation Branch came about largely through the excitable manners of this sub officer, and the undue influence he seems to have obtained over the mind of his inspector, it is incredible, to our minds, that quiet, well-conducted men should suddenly become insubordinate and untrustworthy unless there was a solid substratum of fact in their complaints of the exasperating demeanour of the sergeant. We freely admit his capability as a sergeant of police. We have already made our recommendations with regard to this sub-officer.
Sergeant Rody Byrne. -We recommend that the sergeant be refunded his return fare between Toowoomba and Brisbane, and that he certainly should be re-employed in mounted duty.
Acting Sergeant Fay. -The commissioners are of opinion that the acting sergeant has failed to establish any personal grievance.
Acting Sergeant Kelly. -We think the acting sergeant has failed to establish a personal grievance.
Acting Sergeant Crawford. -We deprecate that the acting sergeant did not convey to his superior officers the information with reference to an improper attempt on the part of some members of the force to manufacture evidence in a certain case, but we appreciate his statement that he feared consequences. We do not think the acting sergeant has proved his charges.
Constable Fuller. -From the demeanour of this constable when giving evidence we unanimously came to the conclusion that he is deserving of no consideration, and is fortunate in being still retained in the service.
Constable Roche. -The constable was acquitted before a bench of magistrates on the charges preferred against him by his Inspector, and we think that he is entitled to his full pay during his suspension, and recommend it accordingly.
Constable Weathered. -We made a very exhaustive inquiry into this case, and are unanimous in recommending that Sergeant O'Brien should be transferred for the benefit of the service, as we think that his separation from Inspector Driscoll would be advisable. We must express our regret that Inspector Driscoll is unable to see the impropriety of Sergeant O'Brien's conduct.
We recommend that Weathered be paid house allowance while stationed at Bundaberg, and also expenses of transfer to Townsville.
Ex-Senior Sergeant Grimshaw. -The ex-senior sergeant held a good record for twenty-three years, but prior to his dismissal was suspected of receiving bribes from certain Chinese gamblers. In order to sheet home the offence, Inspector Douglas, with the knowledge of the Commissioner, opened a private letter addressed to the senior sergeant, and detained others. This opened letter was resealed with the money contained in it, and came into the senior sergeant's possession through the Post Office. He made no report to his superior officer of having received this, but alleges that he returned the money, as also other money, to the Chinaman who sent it. An inquiry was held before the Commissioner, who informed the senior sergeant that he had actual proof of his guilt, and the senior sergeant was subsequently dismissed. From a strictly legal standpoint the evidence may not be all that was required, but we think the evidence disclosed grounds for grave suspicion, and under the circumstances the Commissioner was warranted in recommending the senior sergeant's dismissal. Two letters that were detained were produced before us unopened, and opened by the ex-senior sergeant in our presence. They both contained money as a present from the same Chinaman.
Ex-Constable Seymour. -With regard to the ex-constable who, we think, was most harshly dealt with, we recommend his reinstatement in the Police Force.
Ex-Constable Hanlon. -We recommend that under the circumstances this ex-constable's contributions to the superannuation fund be paid to him ex gratia.
Ex-Constable Doran. -We see no reason to conclude that the ex-constable has been unfairly dealt with.
The members of the Police Inquiry Commission had the unpleasant duty of dealing with quite a number of personal charges and grievances.
It is impossible to deal with such a matter so as to satisfy everybody; very often it is so dealt with as to satisfy nobody.
A glance at the report now before us shows that the Commissioners have taken infinite pains to get at the truth, and that their recommendations are based on such knowledge as was accessible. Naturally many complaints broke down; perhaps the most ludicrous collapse was that of the Irish patriot who insisted that his countrymen received unjust treatment in the force, and who was unable to produce one single instance in support of his complaint. But the coinage as well as the impartiality of the Commission is seen in tile personal recommendations made by them. Passing from Mr. Parry-Okeden to his subordinates, we find detailed and strenuous effort made to remove friction, to punish the offending, and to right the wronged.
The Chief Inspector is "out of touch with his duties," and has "outlasted his usefulness"; it is recommended that he should retire.
Inspector Fitzgerald, on the contrary, smarts under an injustice, and should be restored to his seniority rank.
Inspector Urquhart is of a temperament unfitting him for his post, and it would be an advantage "if an appointment of equal status and pay to that of his present office could be found for him in the Civil Service."
Inspector Nethercote, again, was deprived of his seniority by an error; the error has been rectified, but its results in loss of pay and promotion still want to be redressed.
It is recommended that Sergeant Shanahan, and First-class Constable Fowler, as well as Inspector Urquhart, be removed from the Criminal Investigation Branch, where their intimacy has done mischief.
Several minor cases were dealt with patiently, among them that of ex-Constable Seymour, whose reinstatement to the force is recommended.
The case of ex-Detective Grimshaw is, perhaps, the only one left in an unsatisfactory position. He was dismissed on the charge of receiving bribes from a Chinaman.
Three of the five members of Commission think the dismissal was warranted; the other two, one of them Judge Noel, regard the Commission's procedure and the decision as "exceedingly questionable and improper."
Assuredly if a man is to be held innocent till he is proved guilty, Mr. Grimshaw should he reinstated.
The just and humane treatment of the members of the force so closely concerns its efficiency that a very large proportion of the report deals with these matters.
Such questions as superannuation, pay and allowances, promotion and transfer, barrack accommodation, defaulters' sheets, inquiries into misconduct, fines and punishments, must be settled on a satisfactory basis if the class of men we want is to be attracted to the service.
On all these matters, and many others of' like sort, the Commission ask for reform. It was found, for example, that barrack accommodation was bad. "At the depot the beds are execrable"; "lavatory and sanitary arrangements are disgraceful"; "Roma-street barracks are entirely inadequate"; and a similar state of things obtains throughout the colony.
New rules are recommended for fines and punishments, and the over resort to transfers as a means of punishment is condemned.
The most unsatisfactory items in the list are the record sheets and the methods of conducting inquiries.
It seems that men were "sometimes punished upon a private statement made without their knowledge by the superior officer to the head of the department."
This the Commissioners describe as, “intolerable."
It seems, too, that "men were kept in absolute ignorance of condemnatory remarks made secretly in the defaulter-sheet;" "in many cases they bad been refused a view of their defaulters’ sheet?"
This, it is remarked, had "great influence in bringing about the present dissatisfaction and want of esprit de corps throughout the force.”
The recommendations that men should wear khaki uniform in summer, and that detectives should never wear uniforms of any kind, are so plainly reasonable that we wonder they should have been necessary.
There are other matters of more direct interest to the public.
One important recommendation is an increase in the force itself. "The evidence before us," says the Commissioners "is conclusive that there is urgent necessity for a substantial increase in the force both of officers and men. We recommend three extra sub-inspectors and twenty-five men at least."
We are inclined to lay some stress on that "at least," two other matters connect themselves with this.
On the one hand, the Commissioners are of opinion that too many of the police are employed as clerks in the various offices.
On the other, they think that the control of the street traffic might with great advantage be left in the hands of the police, "in view of the excellent results achieved in London and elsewhere." And the increase of force they recommend is "exclusive of any extra men that might be wanted should the police be made entirely responsible for the control of the street traffic in Brisbane."
Special attention should be given to the recommendation touching manual of rules, and provision of some elementary law books for guidance at the various stations throughout the colony.
In one particular the Commissioner is dissatisfied with the "instructions" which, however informally, have been given to the force.
Very strong things were said by some witnesses of the tying of the hands of the police in relation to the liquor laws.
On that head the Commission say: "We think that the police should be given increased facilities for enforcing these laws, as the prohibited traffic has assumed such proportions as to become a public evil."
A large section of the report refers to the Criminal Investigation Branch, and to the murders, which during the last twelve months have baffled inquiry. After recommending some reforms in the detective department itself, including the appointment of Mr. Nethercote as inspector, the Commissioners point out the mistakes made in dealing with these tragedies.
The refusal of the police to take seriously the disappearance of Mr. Hill's son, and the difficulty met in inducing them to take any action, are severely censured.
Similar remarks are made over the series of initial blunders in the Gatton case. Sergeant Arrell, the first official visitor, had no note-book and took no notes; and he used no precautions to prevent the ground being trodden all over.
The telegram sent to Brisbane about midday was not opened till 9 o'clock next morning. A private telegram came to the notice of Inspector Urquhart, who treated it as a hoax. Only about 9 at night was word sent second-hand to Mr. Parry-Okeden.
If this Commission did nothing more than remove some of the stumbling blocks, which have so, interfered with the discovery of crime, it would deserve well of the Country.
In the Assembly yesterday, the discussion on the Estimates win resumed in Committee of Supply.
On the police vote (£173,098), which had previously been postponed until the report of the Police Commission had been presented,
Mr. FOXTON, after indicating the changes, which had been made in the department, suggested that the discussion on the report of the Royal Commission should stand over until next session. It had been impossible for him to do more than read the report, and deal cursorily with the evidence. No one had had time to go through the evidence from end to end. He would have to go very carefully into the matter to see what should be done; but he could not say how long it would take. A suggestion had been made by the commission that the report should be regarded as final and conclusive; but he was not prepared to accept that view. The Ministers and the House were the final arbiters. Personally, he might require more light, and perhaps more evidence, on some of the matters, notwithstanding the voluminous evidence some of it useless, which had been taken.
Mr. BROWNE agreed With the Home Secretary that members had not had time to digest the report. But sufficient time had elapsed to enable the Minister to take action on some of the recommendations, which demanded immediate attention.
Mr. FOXTON said he was not prepared to say on what recommendations he would act; but he assured the House that some action would be taken, and that he did not intend to pigeonhole the report. If would he unpleasant to have to take action in some instances, but he was prepared to face the position and do his duty. Most of the time of Ministers had been taken up by the House. Although he was not now prepared to say exactly what he intended to do, he proposed to grapple with the matter at the earliest possible date. He had taken action in the direction of securing more evidence on certain points, which he considered necessary.
Mr. FITZGERALD said he quite understood the position of the Minister. The matter was of such importance that he should be given time to consider the whole question of reorganising the force. Such a reorganisation, in the opinion of the public, must take place. But a question that cropped up in connection with the proposed delay was the position of ex-officers, who, the commission thought, should be reinstated. There were Seymour and Grimshaw.
Mr. FOXTON: The commission did not recommend that Grimshaw should be reinstated.
Mr. FITZGERALD said one of the commissioners did. That was Sir. F. W. Dickson, who was to be complimented on the straightforward report he had written. He (Mr. Fitzgerald) agreed with him that Grimshaw's dismissal was a travesty on justice. When the Minister read the evidence he might, perhaps, come to a different opinion. Something, say in the way of temporary employment, should he done for those men said to be suffering injustice; but it would he well not to rush the matter of reorganisation.
Mr. FOXTON said he wished to do justice to all officers. But from what he had read he had arrived at an opinion concerning Grimshaw different to that of Mr. Fitzgerald; and in the case of Seymour he had come to a conclusion somewhat favourable to that man. The further evidence taken, however, might alter his opinion, and it was with a view to avoid doing injustice that he needed time. Mr. Dickson had analysed the evidence from a legal standpoint; but a Minister, the same as a private employer, had to go beyond legal technicalities. Why did not Grimshaw, for instance, report the receipt of a bribe?
Mr. JACKSON: There is no regulation to that effect.
Mr. FITZGERALD suggested that the reason why Detective Grimshaw had not reported the receipt of bribes was that he was endeavouring to catch the Chinaman. As was admitted by the Commissioner of Police, himself, the only evidence against Grimshaw was contained in the depositions at the preliminary inquiry, and this, in his (Mr.
Fitzgerald's) opinion, was not sufficient to condemn an officer who had proved himself to be highly competent.
Mr. M'DONNELL said that if the Minister had given his assurance that he would be prepared to accept at least some of the recommendations of the commission, the House would probably be now quite willing to allow the discussion to stand over until next session. The evidence and the report disclosed a corrupt state of things, which should be grappled with at once, and considering the grasp of the affairs of his department which the Minister generally exhibited, he should have been prepared to give the House some indication of the lines upon which he intended to proceed. If no such information was given, he (Mr. M'Donnell) did not see how the House could pass the Estimates at the present stage.
Mr. FOXTON said that speaking in the light of his present knowledge he was inclined to accept a number of the recommendations of the commission, if not all of them; but he could not give any specific pledges until he had an opportunity of digesting the evidence upon which the commission based its conclusions. It was impossible for him to get time to do that until the House went into recess.
Mr. FISHER: Are you prepared to carry out recommendation No. 19?
Mr. FOXTON said that if he found the barrack accommodation was in a bad condition he, of course, would attend to it.
Mr. FISHER said that. Mr. Foxton's remarks suggested that he placed his own opinion above that of a qualified commission. The commission declared that not only were the beds at the barracks execrable, but the lavatory and sanitary arrangements were disgraceful, and the Government should take action at once in the interests of the public heath. It was almost imperative that immediate action should be taken to redress the, grievances of those officers who were found to be, suffering under grievous injustice; and there were also some other matters of ordinary administration, which should at once engage the Minister's attention.
Mr. JACKSON said he was not prepared to endorse the sweeping charges made by
Mr. FOXTON: I do not agree with that at all.
Mr. M'DONNELL said that Mr. Dickson, in his addendum, had shown very clearly the necessity for such action. It was the present Commissioner who had made the changes in the Criminal Investigation Branch, which changes in his (the speaker's) opinion had resulted in the efficiency of that branch being seriously impaired. It had been shown that Mr. Parry-Okeden was deficient in organising and administrative ability, and if he was to be retained in the department he should be made subject to a more competent and experienced man.
Mr. FOXTON said that the men upon whom the strictures of the commission fell were men who were in the department prior to Mr. Parry-Okeden's appointment, and he inherited the state of things then existing.
Mr. M'DONNELL: And he allowed them to go on.
Mr. FOXTON said that those who thought that Mr. Parry-Okeden was not a man of strong character made a great mistake. The Commissioner was not only a man of determination, but also possessed a keen sense of honour and justice. (Hear, hear.) That was the sort of man wanted at the head of the force. Even allowing that much that had been said regarding Mr. Parry-Okeden's inexperience was true, it should be borne in mind that he had learned a great deal during the last twelve months, and it would be difficult to find another man equally qualified in other respects who possessed the same intimate knowledge of Queensland and of the Queensland Police Force as did the present Commissioner.
Mr. GLASSEY: The commission did not recommend the removal of Mr. Parry-Okeden.
Mr. FOXTON said that was so; but whereas with regard to Seymour he was asked to give effect to the recommendation of the commission, when it came to the Commissioner he was asked to ignore the recommendation of the commission. Complimentary references had been made to Mr. Dickson's addendum; but, speaking for himself, he regarded the language used as more suggestive of the advocate than the Judge. He could assure the House that in dealing with this matter he would endeavour to do full justice to everybody -(hear, hear)-and executive action would be taken without delay.
Mr. M'DONALD did not think the inquiry was complete; there was many things in connection with the industrial troubles of 1891 and 1841 which required investigation, especially the poisoning of the tank in the Western part of the colony.
Mr. HARDACRE asked if anything was to he done in regard to the great necessity for a police manual? He also contended that men who were sent to the outlying parts were overlooked when promotion was being given.
Mr. GLASSEY thought the Minister should recommend to the Commissioner that ex-Detective Seymour should be reinstated. He also considered that Mr. Parry-Okeden had come out of the ordeal well.
Mr. DAWSON paid it was inopportune to discuss, with any degree of justice, the report of the Police Commission. They could not deal with it thoroughly under a week. He suggested that only ordinary police questions should be debated.
Mr. M'DONALD said it was understood that the police Estimates were postponed until the report of the commission and the report of actuary on the superannuation fund were received. Now, it was proposed to adjourn the consideration of the Estimates, probably to a time when it would be lost sight of or there would be no chance to debate them.
Mr. DAWSON said that the matter referred to by Mr. M'Donald was a most important one, and he (Mr. Dawson) believed that when inquiry, was made into the matter startling disclosures would be made. He was anxious to see the adjournment of the discussion, because he did not believe any members were sufficiently familiar with the evidence to give the matter proper consideration. He had also a particular reason for wishing to have the discussion postponed. He was on the track of evidence in connection with certain police transactions, which if true, would startle not only Queensland, but Australia.
Mr. MAXWELL called attention to the unsuitableness of the police, who were sent to the North. He also complained that the horses provided were unfit for the work.
Mr. KEOGH expressed surprise that no refutation had been made of the charges against the Commissioner of Police. He expressed a hope that ex-Constable Seymour would be reinstated.
Mr. DUNSFORD said that the members of the Police Commission were appointed to inquire into the Police Force of Queensland; but they had only inquired into the state-of the force around Brisbane. It was impossible for a just conclusion to be arrived at unless evidence was taken from all over the colony. That view was taken by Judge Noel himself, and also by Mr. Dickson. He hoped the Minister would see that the inquiry was completed.
The debate continued at some length, the labour members demanding, amongst other things, better horses for the police in the Northern and outlying districts; increased allowance on account of extra cost of living in distant parts; and restoration of wages to the position prevailing before the retrenchment of 1898, and other matters of minor importance, into which the Home Secretary promised to inquire.
The vote was then agreed to, and this completed the Estimates in chief.