Thursday, June 5, 2008

Govt 'couldn't act sooner' on Standen allegations

Source ABC  Posted Thu Jun 5, 2008 9:23pm AEST

New South Wales Police Minister David Campbell is on the backfoot after admitting he has known about serious allegations against a senior Crime Commission officer since last September.
Mr Campbell says he was not able to act sooner.
(AAP: Dean Lewins, file photo)

Mark Standen has been charged over his alleged involvement in a plot to import chemicals for the manufacture of illegal drugs.

Police allege the 51-year-old advised a global drug syndicate of the latest crime-fighting methods, in a plot to import 600 kilograms of chemicals to make $120 million worth of the drug 'ice'.

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) is to oversee all future activities of the Crime Commission in the wake of the damaging scandal.

Mr Campbell says the PIC will now be the oversight body for all law enforcement agencies in New South Wales.

The Opposition has questioned why it has taken until today for the Minister to respond to concerns about the Commission's autonomy.

Mr Campbell says he was not able to act sooner.

"I have been considering the oversight of the Crime Commission for some months but in the face of the advice of the Australian Federal Police that they wanted this covert operation to continue, those decisions were not taken and I think that's entirely appropriate," Mr Campbell said.

Mr Campbell says he is acting swiftly to introduce greater oversight for the Crime Commission.

"The Government will move to ensure the Police Integrity Commission has an oversight role of the State Crime Commission," he said.

But Opposition police spokesman, Mike Gallacher, says the PIC is linked inextricably to the Crime Commission and is hardly an independent body.

"There's only one option and the Government's going to be dragged kicking and screaming on this one - there's going to have to be an independent judicial review with royal commission powers," Mr Gallacher said.

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