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July 04, 2008

Ian Wishart blasts Police Complaints report, releases new evidence

INVESTIGATE MAGAZINE DISCLOSES MAJOR DISCREPANCIES IN POLICE COMPLAINTS REPORT, ALLEGES PCA TRIED TO INTIMIDATE WITNESSES INTO CHANGING THEIR STORIES
4 JULY 2008
EMBARGOED TO 11am

Investigate magazine editor Ian Wishart suspects the “Independent” Police Conduct Authority may be coming under political pressure to whitewash allegations of misconduct and corruption within the police ahead of the election.

The award-winning journalist and author has turned up the heat on Police Conduct Authority head Lowell Goddard today after the release of what he says is a “whitewash” report into police commissioner Howard Broad.

“The report released today raises far more questions than it answers,” says Wishart, who laid out bullet point failings in the IPCA report.

A LACK OF INTEGRITY IN THE IPCA INVESTIGATION

• I have grave concerns about the integrity of the IPCA report, given that the IPCA investigator Gerry Cunneen tried to browbeat former police officer Dave Jarden into recanting his evidence about the Broad incident, accusing him of having “sour grapes”. This is unacceptable behavior by any “independent” investigator, and the IPCA needs to urgently explain the actions of its investigator in this regard and hold him to account

• Did Cunneen use the same approach to give other witnesses a clear signal that they should tow the party line? Given Dave Jarden’s experience, the public can now have absolutely no confidence in the integrity of the IPCA report and its findings

• Gerry Cunneen has a major conflict of interest in my view, given that his most recent appointment before joining IPCA was as an adviser to Labour’s Minister of Police

• Gerry Cunneen has a conflict of interest in that he was a former close colleague of Howard Broad’s, and should not have been tasked with this investigation. If IPCA head Lowell Goddard wanted New Zealanders to take her office seriously, she should have appointed an investigator not tainted by associations with the subject of the investigation, such as one of her foreign-born staff or an independent QC.

• Gerry Cunneen was named in Parliament in 2004 during debate about Labour’s Police Minister pressuring police to prosecute National MP Shane Ardern for driving a tractor up the steps of parliament. Given that I referred to this incident in the Absolute Power chapter at the centre of this complaint and he would have known I was referring to him, Cunneen should have declared his interest and declined the investigation role.

• A former senior Christchurch police officer, Colin Campbell, refused to speak to Cunneen because of his many conflicts of interest and wrote to the IPCA requesting to speak to another investigator. The IPCA now claims to have “not received” Campbell’s letter outlining his concerns about Cunneen. Campbell has not – to this day – been interviewed by the IPCA.

• The IPCA report has all the hallmarks of a once-over-lightly rush job. It was turned around in nine weeks. Yet a major report on police corruption involving Peter Gibbons - one of Police Commissioner Howard Broad’s close friends - remains unreleased, a year after the investigation commenced, and six months after it was first scheduled for completion and release. The IPCA has obtained documented evidence of corrupt practices which will embarrass both Broad and Police Minister Annette King. Yet the report remains under wraps.

THE INTEGRITY OF BROAD AND THE PM’S OFFICE

Despite being put on notice about these drink driving allegations in mid 2007 by a series of emails from Investigate magazine, neither the Prime Minister’s office nor Police National Headquarters saw fit to call in the IPCA to conduct an “independent” investigation. Instead, Police National HQ began its own witchhunt to track down the officer who had pulled over Howard Broad in 1992.

• The actions of Police HQ and the State Services Commission in contacting material witnesses and pre-empting any effective investigation by the IPCA irreparably compromised the IPCA investigation. The public cannot have faith that police did not intimidate junior officer Wayne Stevenson into giving the version of events that now form the ‘official’ record of this incident.

• The actions of the IPCA’s own investigator into attempting to get Investigate’s police sources to recant additionally shows corrupt intent, in my view, to cover up the incident

• The IPCA report records that Broad did not know the name of the officer who had pulled him over, and ‘had only learned [officer Wayne Stevenson’s] his name after a complaint made by Mr Wishart to the Prime Minister in 2007’.

• The record will show that neither Ian Wishart nor Investigate magazine ever disclosed the identity of Stevenson to either Broad or the PM’s office, meaning Broad has some fresh explaining to do as to how he found the name and why he neglected to alert the IPCA.

• The report discloses a bizarre “Yes Minister” sequence of events last year: The Government FIRST denied Investigate’s allegations. AFTER issuing that denial, it then commenced its own ‘investigation’, presumably to ensure witnesses were brought into line with the substance of the previously issued denial

• The public can have no faith in a police minister who issues a blanket denial before she has done any investigation

• The public can have no faith in a Police Minister who takes advice from proven corrupt police officers

THE FAILURE TO BREATH TEST:

• The first question that must be answered, and still has not despite the IPCA report: If all parties accept that Detective Inspector Howard Broad was sufficiently drunk that he was not allowed to drive further, WHY was he not subjected to an evidential breath test? How many other New Zealanders get favours like that from police?

• The State Services Commission spun the story to the news media when Absolute Power was released to imply that Howard Broad had NOT been breath-tested, but the IPCA report says he was

• The IPCA report confirms Broad was given a blow in the bag roadside test. The test MUST have been positive, because Broad was forbidden from driving further that evening and made to walk. The officer had no power to prevent Broad from driving if the roadside test had been clear.

• Broad himself admits the seriousness of his predicament, as he is quoted by the IPCA report “The test would have indicated that I had been drinking as that was, in fact, the case…An enforcement action then followed, which was to direct me to park the car and I was forbidden to drive until the morning. This was the normal enforcement action of the day”

• This breath-test issue now becomes critically important. The State Services Commission report by Mark Prebble allegedly states that the junior officer was within his discretion not to require an evidential breath test from Broad. The officer might have had a discretion not to breath test at all, but having taken the step to make Howard Broad undergo a breath screening test, it is hard to see how the officer had a discretion not to finish the process once the presence of alcohol was confirmed by the screening test

• If the screening test result gave the officer power to forbid Broad from driving, it is hard to see how the officer had any “discretion” not to then require an evidential test. Either Broad was too drunk to drive, or he wasn’t. Given that a screening test was done and a decision made that Broad could not drive further, this now becomes a major issue in determining whether any improper influence was brought on the junior officer either directly by Broad or merely by the circumstances.

• The Transport Act 1962, which applied at the time, states that officers have the power to forbid people from driving if their breath alcohol appears to exceed the legal limits, and that such persons must undergo an evidential breath test or a blood test to confirm the screening result.

• Again, the fundamental question: why was a senior ranking officer, found and confirmed to have been drink driving, not required to give an evidential breath test?

THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT THE ROADSIDE

Both the IPCA and the State Services Commission report deny that the incident happened at a checkpoint. This is probably immaterial and the magazine prefers to believe the police officers it has spoken to, but the central core of our story remains unchallenged: Broad drove drunk and was not breath tested.

• Howard Broad was picked up for either swerving across lanes (State Services Commission report) or failing to stop for a traffic light (IPCA report). Either way, he admitted he had been drinking and was required to give a roadside breath test. By Broad’s own testimony he evidently failed the test, because the traffic officer invoked his powers to forbid Broad from driving any further that night. He did not, however, require Broad to undergo a formal breath test, as required by the Transport Act 1962.

• The IPCA discloses that an even higher ranking police officer than Broad, an unnamed Detective Superintendent who was a passenger in the car, had words with the junior officer about the incident, prior to Wayne Stevenson deciding not to require an evidential breath test

• The name of this Detective Superintendent has not been disclosed, but this has striking parallels to the Peter Doone case where Doone, a passenger in the car, was alleged to have tried to intimidate a junior cop into not breath testing the driver. The name of the Detective Supt should be disclosed

• The MOT staff were about to merge with Police the following month. Wayne Stevenson may have felt intimidated by the circumstances, if he had tried to press the point against two ranking senior officers. In many ways, Stevenson was far more vulnerable than Brett Main, the Wellington junior constable at the centre of the Doone case.

• If the circumstances of the incident were as rosy as the State Services Commission and IPCA are now trying to make out, how did the incident manage to immediately attract the attention of many of Wayne Stevenson’s colleagues, all of whom tell a very different version of the story to the ‘official’ version? If Stevenson was not intimidated at the time, and was perfectly happy, how did anyone find out?

• There is a conflict of evidence. Police officers spoken to by Investigate distinctly remember the incident as Howard Broad refusing to undergo a breath test and driving away from a checkpoint. Officers we have spoken to recall discussing the issue with some concern the night that it happened. Yet the SSC and IPCA investigations now claim it was a “routine” traffic stop, and the officer concerned has been wheeled out to support this, and say that he had no problems with Broad on the night. I ask the question again, if that is true, why and how did the rest of Christchurch traffic police find out and why do they remember the incident differently from the “official” version.

Ian Wishart says the failings of the Police Conduct Authority report again prove the need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Police, particularly given the Government’s role in muddying the waters.

“Despite Labour realizing this was an allegation of serious misconduct against the country’s top policeman, they utterly failed to alert the ‘Independent’ Police Conduct Authority. The question I ask today is ‘why?’.

“Instead, the integrity of the IPCA investigation has been totally compromised because the Government allowed police to get access to the lowly constable first. The New Zealand public have no knowledge of whether Wayne Stevenson was placed under any pressure, either implicit or explicit, to toe the party line on this.

“It is clear that Police National Headquarters left no stone unturned trying to find the officer who had pulled Broad over in 1992.

“Was his career in the police threatened if he broke ranks? Other police officers Investigate has spoken to have suffered exactly that threat and fate.

“The public cannot trust the IPCA report.”

Ian Wishart challenged the IPCA to come clean about the reasons for a delay in releasing its investigation into alleged corruption inside Dunedin Police – an investigation commenced a year ago.

“Last year, Investigate magazine broke the story of massive corruption in Dunedin. Police Commissioner Howard Broad called on his old friend Peter Gibbons to help try and discredit the Investigate story, and Gibbons testimony was widely used by the Labour Government and the news media.

“However, Investigate then published official documents proving Howard Broad’s friend and star witness was himself a corrupt cop.

“I understand that the IPCA was originally scheduled to release its report back in the New Year, but the release has been mysteriously delayed on a number of occasions since. New Zealanders now have good grounds to be suspicious – especially as the IPCA wasted no time turning around its quickie ‘investigation’ into Howard Broad in just a matter of weeks.”

ANOTHER INCIDENT FOR HOWARD BROAD TO COME CLEAN ON:

The IPCA report claims the Christchurch incident was the only one of its kind involving Howard Broad. That may not be true.

In May 2006, a month after being appointed Police Commissioner, Howard Broad crashed his car in what police refer to as a “single vehicle accident” in the early hours of the morning. The accident was attended by Nathan Hessell of Levin Police, and Broad’s car had to be towed by Levin Towing and Salvage.

Rumours that Broad had been drinking prior to the crash swept Manawatu police, and the then District Commander, Mark Lammas, sent an email to one officer advising that he had asked the acting head of Levin Police, Gwynne Pennell, to investigate.

Pennell however says no investigation was carried out, despite her own decision to raise the issue with Lammas directly.
Section 68(1)(c) of the Land Transport Act specifies that Howard Broad should have been breath-tested:

68 Who must undergo breath screening test
… (c) If an accident has occurred involving a motor vehicle,—
 (i) The driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident; or
 (ii) If the enforcement officer is unable to ascertain who the driver of the motor vehicle was at the time of the accident, a person whom the officer has good cause to suspect was in the motor vehicle at the time of the accident.

There is nothing in the documentation disclosed to Investigate to suggest that a breath-test was carried out on Police Commissioner Howard Broad on this occasion.

“As a journalist, I have done more to identify and expose police corruption in New Zealand than the IPCA has. Not only did the documentation we uncovered prove misconduct by Police Minister Annette King’s source Peter Gibbons, but our story on drug dealers operating under the noses and protection of some Southland and Central Otago police resulted in arrests of drug dealers in those areas this year for the first time in five years, and locals report that some police officers were either stood down or transferred to other stations.

“Investigate has files thick with testimony from serving and former police who would tell a Royal Commission of corrupt practices involving senior police. This whitewash report from the IPCA reveals just how urgent that now is.”

ENDS

Posted by Ian Wishart at July 4, 2008 11:43 AM

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