From Green-Left Weekly
- September 8 - 1999.
Dynamiting the cone of
Corruption (1 and 2) By Raymond Hoser, Kotabi Publishers, Melbourne,
1999 736pp (vol. 1) 800 pp. (vol. 2),
$33 each (+ $5 each if posted)
Order from <http://www.smuggled.com>
Review by Sean Healy
Lots of people suspect the existence of massive
police corruption and the abuse of power, some have had direct experience
of it, but very few can "prove" it. Raymond Hoser, the author
of exposés of official corruption such as Smuggled,
Smuggled 2 and The
Hoser Files, knew he was in for a difficult time when decided to
document corruption within the Victoria Police.
Just how difficult was demonstrated on August
29, when the Victoria Police forced major booksellers in the state to take
Victoria Police Corruption off their shelves.
The book had proved very popular; the first
print run of 13,000 sold within days of its release. Police had attempted
to seize the entire print run as it came off the presses but arrived too
late. According to Hoser, police officers have rung mainstream media outlets
to demand that the book not be publicised.
According to Hoser's solicitor, Alex Tees,
the official justification for the ban was that the book was defamatory
and an attempt to discredit the police.
Victoria Police Corruption's contents are almost
entirely accounts of individual cases of police corruption and misconduct.
The book is not without faults. Hoser's writing style is grating, there
are frequent digressions from the topic, there is (inexcusably) no index,
and he draws a long bow in some of his conclusions. Nevertheless, Hoser
has produced dynamite. If even a quarter of the instances documented in
the book are true, the police should be worried.
Hoser told Green Left Weekly, "None of
this is made up. Much of it is already on the public record, in court transcripts
and the media. Other material is from interviews I did with people (including
police officers). It can be verified. I even have a 140-page bibliography
available for checking."
Almost every crime imaginable is documented
as having been committed by members of the Victoria Police. There are petty
crimes and scams such as getting "freebies" everywhere, routinely
getting away with drink driving and breaking windows to collect spotters'
Hoser also alleges serious crimes such as conspiring
with criminals, framing "whistleblowers", robbery, drug trafficking
and importation, assault, gun smuggling and sexual assault. Then there
is the downright murderous: the fingering of "protected" informants
to other criminals, police shootings "in the line of duty", murder
Most worryingly, Hoser documents how the "brotherhood"
protects police officers who break the law. Very few of the cases discussed
in the book resulted in criminal charges. In some cases, the accused officer
was allowed to resign on full pension.
Hoser claims that moves against crooked cops
have been stymied by the internal investigations department and that even
the Victorian ombudsman's office, magistrates and coroners have, in many
instances, protected police and prevented news of their activities filtering
According to the Bulletin, the Victorian ombudsman
in one year received 11,000 complaints against Victorian police officers,
most commonly for assault. Only eight were upheld.
Out of 42 fatal police shootings since 1982,
the coroner found that in 38 police had no case to answer and were justified
in their actions. Of the four cases that went to trial, one was withdrawn
by the director of public prosecutions and one resulted in an acquittal.
Of the two officers found guilty, both had shot other police officers.
Hoser presents many cases that indicate the
extent of the "cone of silence" within the Victorian Police.
Here are two.
In 1996, 14 women took legal action over serial
rapes, allegedly committed by police, in the Victorian country town of
Maryborough. A 12-year-old girl was allegedly assaulted at a blue light
disco. Another woman was allegedly raped at gunpoint on a number of occasions
in her dance studio.
Some women alleged they were assaulted after
being pulled over whilst driving; others claimed they were raped in the
police station; some said they were assaulted in their homes. Some women
raised suspicions over the deaths of two women who had claimed they had
been raped by police.
The women who complained claim they were subjected
to systematic harassment by the police officers concerned and their "brothers".
Many say they were pressured into withdrawing complaints. One woman said
that police turned up at her workplace and interviewed her work-mates about
her sexual history. Another had $12,500 in court costs awarded against
her after a magistrate rejected her complaint.
Eventually, the deputy ombudsman investigated.
He found that "evidence of criminality has been disclosed" in
relation to 13 officers. Three were dismissed from the force, two were
allowed to quit with full benefits, and eight remain in the force. One
police officer, charged with four counts of indecent assault and rape,
was cleared when the director of public prosecutions dropped the case,
on what Hoser claims were spurious grounds.
The Maryborough police force was then given
a clean bill of health by Premier Jeff Kennett and the police commissioner,
The second case Hoser examines involved the
death of Jenny Tanner on November 14, 1984, from gunshot wounds to the
head. She had been shot twice in the head and once in each hand. The prime
suspect was Tanner's cop brother-in-law, Denis Tanner. The official police
story was that it was suicide.
The report of the first police officer on the
scene said it was more likely to have been a murder than a suicide. The
report was amended, allegedly by the officer's superior. Another senior
officer allegedly attempted to pressure the pathologist into recording
suicide as the cause of death. The media were told it was a straightforward
suicide and that Tanner was depressed, a claim her family and friends denied.
The coroner's inquest, conducted by Hugh Adams,
revealed too many inconsistencies in the suicide story for it to become
the official verdict. Instead Adams' report left the cause of death open
but exonerated Denis Tanner of any culpability and improperly closed the
case (for Adams also refer to other corrupt activity involving him in The
On July 20, 1995, the bones of Adele Bailey
were found down a mine shaft, in a location accessible only from the Tanner
property. Bailey had allegedly been a girlfriend of Denis Tanner's.
By now, Tanner had fallen out with the top
brass of the police -- according to Hoser, there had been one too many
scandals. The Jenny Tanner case was reopened, Adams' report was quashed
and a new coronial inquiry ordered.
The second coronial inquiry began on October
6, 1997. The proceedings demonstrated the extent of police collusion in
covering up Jenny Tanner's death. Fifty witnesses were called. All the
way up the chain of command, officer after officer claimed to know nothing
about the cover-up; they clammed up when confronted with evidence to the
contrary. Adams refused to take the stand on a legal technicality.
Nevertheless, the final coroner's report went
no further than to admit that "the death was not properly investigated
by police because a fellow Victoria Police officer was under real suspicion".
No action was recommended or taken against any of the officers involved.
Denis Tanner was named in the coroner's report
as "the person who shot Jenny Tanner". However, the director
of public prosecutions issued a statement on March 18, 1999, that Tanner
would not be prosecuted for his sister-in-law's murder. Tanner wasn't even
dismissed from the force, only placed on indefinite leave and allowed to
collect his full pay of $1100 a week.
Despite the evidence he presents in Victoria
Police Corruption, Hoser doesn't believe that there will be an
official investigation into his allegations, let alone a Royal Commission.
"The only inquiries that ever happen happen
for reasons of political expediency", he told Green Left Weekly. "And
Kennett has no political need to call one -- so why should he?"
To order these
books NOW click here.
Police try to
seize new corruption books - News Story - September 1999
Book Review -
in The Strategy - October 1999
in Nexus magazine
media release for the books "Victoria Police Corruption" 1 and
Police Corruption 1 and 2 Legal Statement (NSW Hansard)
Police Corruption - Contents
Police Corruption - 2 - Contents
INDEX (LIST OF SITES)
Non-urgent email inquiries via the Snakebusters bookings page at:http://www.snakebusters.com.au/sbsboo1.htmUrgent inquiries phone:Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:(03) 9812 3322 or 0412 777 211