Former Victoria Police Chief Ms Christine Nixon took to the stand today in the Victorian Supreme Court, with a polished performance that deconstructed ex- Police Association Secretary Paul Mullett’s carefully crafted case.
Ms Nixon appeared well rehearsed and confident as her defense counsel guided her through piece by piece, to systematically decimate Mr Mullett’s assertions that she acted in “malicious” manner to prosecute him.
She described her formal relations with Mr Mullett as;
“ a cordial relationship and always conducted in decent manner”.
The Court heard Ms Nixon claim that VicPol became involved in the Mullet criminal investigations in 2008, as there were concerns from both the former OPI and Assistant Commissioner Cornelius, related to;
“the power of OPI to lay charges against a range of individuals in Operation Diana”.
Operation Diana was an Office of Police Integrity (OPI) investigation, that allegedly related to the compromised murder investigation and misuse of VicPol email servers.
Ms Nixon advised the Court that she maintained her “independence”, during the investigations into Mr Mullett. She elaborated that she understood that she;
“did not interfere in an investigation of this significance, I just wouldn’t”.
Ms Nixon commenced her time in the witness stand discussing how she began her position as a constable in the NSW police force around 1972 and later began her role within Victoria Police around April 2001.
While working within NSW police, Ms Nixon revealed that she reached the Assistant Commissioner position and obtained various Regional Manager roles.
Defense Counsel acting for Ms Nixon, walked her through her many police awards and commendations that she received during her time in the NSW police force. These included The Australian Police Medal and various long service and good conduct medals.
During the legal proceedings, Ms Nixon admitted that she became aware of the OPI Operation Diana investigation in late 2007. She met with the OPI Director, George Brouwer and OPI Executive Director, Graham Ashton on the 12th of September 2007, to discuss the secret matter.
It was revealed that the former OPI Director was conducting
“an investigation into the leaking of information to criminals about a police investigation, involving members of Victoria Police”.
It was suggested that Paul Mullett, Noel Ashby, Stephen Linnell and others were involved.
During Court proceedings Ms Nixon confirmed that she agreed to allow Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius and Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland, to work with the OPI and be involved in;
“a sting operation…to flash the dye through the tubes, [OPI] wanted them to participate in that process… [OPI] saw them as offenders [Media Director Stephen Linnell, Assistant Commissioner Noel Ashby and Police Association Secretary Paul Mullett]”
Ms Nixon recalled telling Assistant Cornelius that she;
“was really shocked…and surprised.. about the people involved… and what had happened”.
Get Smart spy tactics appear to have been deployed during the secret OPI, Police Chief meeting, with Ms Nixon recalling the OPI director as saying; “security and secrecy was paramount”. She also mentioned that he then;
“Pressed a button…for security purposes. To intercept anyone who might hear anything”.
Remarkably it was claimed that no notes were taken by the former top cop Ms Nixon, during any of these secret meetings.
During the mid-November 2007, public OPI hearings, Mr Cornelius briefed Ms Nixon, on;
“a rolling basis during the day…”, “via a setup of technology…using the police email system”.
Ms Nixon flatly denied that proposed reforms to the Police Regulation Act and the Police Association union factional dispute, in any way influenced her decision to suspend Mr Mullet, on the 15th of November 2007.
Under cross examination Ms Nixon admitted that during the late 1970’s, that she undertook a graduate diploma in industrial relations;
“to better understand the unions systems… and rules ”.
Ms Nixon conceded that these were “flippant comments”, “around her life and her experiences”. Comments designed to better market her book titled “Fair Cop” (2011). She described her book as being written as;
“a memoir for public consumption…sometimes it was slanted as a bit of an exaggeration”.
The former “fair cop’ also recalled that she;
“Had a lot of respect for Mr Mullett as the secretary of the Police Association…As they shared similar backgrounds. ..their fathers were both policemen… They both joined the police after school…they both were fiercely committed to policing …taking different directions …” However it was observed that their battle between “ community orientated policing and the crime control model… had played out…between her and the association”.
It was noted during the Court hearing that Mr Mullett had a distinguished career in police operational roles, as an investigator and detective.
Conversely Ms Nixon’s policing background did not include the management of complex investigations. She reflected that this was “a great shame”, as woman were previously sidelined and not allowed to pursue operational policing roles, in the NSW police force.
Ms Nixon revealed similar Court blocks that prevented female police from assuming operational positions within Victoria Police.
Her efforts to reform the Victorian policing and organizational culture;
“were fiercely resisted by Mr Mullett”.
Cross examination concerns were canvassed about Ms Nixon’s;
“touchy feely policing methods”.
Ms Nixon described a “time in policing, where there was a “hard line”, with “five foot and ten inch males” in charge. She wanted to change that old school culture.
She also mentioned that Mr Mullett took a position that may have been antagonistic, to have woman stopped from being in [police] operational positions.
Court discussions swirled around;
“a factional schism brewing in the [Victorian Police] union”.
There were assertions that Ms Nixon was part of a concerted political campaign against Mr Mullett, to remove him from the Police Association. She outright rejected such suggestions.
Ms Nixon completely denied knowing what happened to the bullying investigation into Mr Mullett.
She says it wasn’t her responsibility to ensure he was informed about the bullying charges or serious misconduct complaint. Nor she claims was it her responsibility to have Mr Mullett interviewed about the complaints. She further said that she never knew who made the complaint about Mr Mullett, as it was confidential.
Mr Mullett’s barrister expressed his concern that the serious allegations against his client progressed for many months and years, without Mr Mullett ever being interviewed or informed about the content of the complaint to defend his position.
Justice Terry Forrest presided over the hearings.
The saga continues…
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