‘No offence intended’: NSW Police backtracks at gay hate crime inquiry

NSW Police commissioner karen webb
Image: NSW Police

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb has written a letter of support to the Supreme Court judge heading the NSW inquiry into historical gay hate crimes after a tense clash between the force and the judge.

The state’s first-of-its-kind special commission of inquiry is examining decades of historical suspected gay-hate crimes. For the past week, NSW Police’s approach to the crimes at the time and since has been under the spotlight.

But last week police and Supreme Court Justice John Sackar clashed after police lawyers accused the inquiry of diverting “consdirable” resources from 12 unsolved homicide investigations.

On Tuesday, NSW Police counsel Mark Tedeschi read out a letter of support to Judge Sackar, on behalf of the force’s commissioner Karen Webb.

“It was not anyone’s intention to cause any offence to you [Justice Sackar] and certainly not to place any pressure on your inquiry,” the statement said.

“The NSW Commissioner of Police and her general counsel have asked me to convey to you their support for this inquiry [and their] ongoing willingness to assist and co-operate with your inquiry to the greatest extent that they can,” Tedeschi said.

“They would like you to know that every effort has been and will be made to comply as completely and efficiently as possible with any requests for information, assistance or summonses by you.”

The letter stressed NSW Police understand “the importance of your inquiry and the significance of your report to the LGBTIQ communities and the community at large”.

It said the inquiry “the potential to reassure the community at large and the LGBTIQ communities in particular that everything that could be done has been done to solve the alarming number of historical bias hate crimes” over the 40 years between 1970 and 2010.

“It represents a unique opportunity for these intolerable crimes to be examined at the highest level by a person with the status and the independence of a Supreme Court judge,” the letter said.

‘If it’s intended to be offensive, it worked’

Last Monday, police counsel Tedeschi told the hearing a letter from police five days later said because of the inquiry’s orders “around 12 investigations and reviews by the unsolved homicide team have had to be placed on hold”.

Sackar furiously rejected the claims at the time and said accusing the commission of “either wittingly or even unwittingly … interrupting the proper police work in relation to unsolved homicides is frankly unacceptable”.

NSW Police could not make the accusations when they had failed to ask for more time to comply with inquiry’s requests, he said.

“If it’s intended to put pressure on this commission, it’s not going to work. If it’s intended to be offensive, it worked, because it is offensive,” he said.

The force had provided over 220 boxes of archived material and 77,000 digital files to the inquiry, NSW Police said.

Last month, the inquiry heard from gay, lesbian and transgender people on the social, cultural and legal factors impacting them over the 40-year period.

Now police witnesses are giving evidence in the new round of hearings underway in Sydney.

For most of last week, a three-year review of 88 deaths of LGBTIQ+ people in Sydney, Strike Force Parrabell, was examined.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *