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Damning Palm Island report -

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Today a damning report into the Queensland police service's handling of the 2004 Palm Island death
in custody of aboriginal man was delivered. The Crime and Misconduct Commission has found that two
police investigations were seriously flawed.


KERRY O'BRIEN (PRESENTER): First, police, race and truth are again at the centre of a political
storm in Queensland tonight. The premier, Anna Bligh, is facing claims she has misled state
parliament over the re-appointment of the state's Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

Commissioner Atkinson has also been effectively put on notice by Queensland's anti-corruption
watchdog. What's sparked today's dramatic events was the tabling of a damning report into the
Queensland police service's handling of the 2004 palm island death in custody of aboriginal man
Cameron Doomadgee. The crime and misconduct commission has found that two police investigations
were seriously flawed. The watchdog has recommended the police service consider disciplinary action
against six officers.

John Taylor reports from Brisbane.

JOHN TAYLOR, REPORTER: Queensland's top anti-corruption fighter today released the most damning
criticism of the Queensland police service since the landmark Fitzgerald Report.

MARTIN MOYNIHAN, CRIME & MISCONDUCT COMMISSION: I think really that the culture that's there at the
moment is corrosive and if it isn't effectively addressed, that corrosion could go further and
cause bad consequences.

JOHN TAYLOR: At the heart of the issue is the 2004 death in custody of Palm Island man, Cameron
Doomadgee. The police has found that the initial police investigation into his death, and
subsequent review, was seriously flawed, unprofessional and part of a self-protecting police

MARTIN MOYNIHAN: They are characterised by double standards and an unwillingness to publicly
acknowledge failings on the part of the police.

ANDREW BOE, DOOMADGEE FAMILY BARRISTER: For the first time a retired, former Supreme Court Justice
who's got no allegiances anywhere is calling it straight.

BOB ATKINSON, QUEENSLAND POLICE COMMISSIONER: I accept that we absolutely should have investigated
this matter better than we did initially. Much of that is with the wisdom of hindsight.

JOHN TAYLOR: Palm Island off Townsville is one of the largest and most troubled Aboriginal
communities in Australia. On November 19, 2004, local man Cameron Doomadgee was arrested by police
for public drunkenness. Within a few hours he was found dead in his cell with his liver nearly torn
in two.

A week later, anger over the death and the police handling of the investigation sparked a riot and
the police station and courthouse were burnt down.

In the six years since there have been three coronial inquests and a criminal crime in which Senior
Sergeant Chris Hurley was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault.

PETER BEATTIE, FORMER QUEENSLAND PREMIER: There was a trial. All the evidence was put before the
court. The jury made a decision and the decision was an acquittal and Sergeant Hurley is now
entitled to resume his life and his career.

JOHN TAYLOR: The Crime and Misconduct Commission however says the police service must change. A
report examining the initial police investigation into Cameron Doomadgee's death and the internal
police review of that investigation has found them both unacceptable and points to systemic
problems that are the responsibility of Police Commissioner, Bob Atkinson.

MARTIN MOYNIHAN: The Police Commissioner must now rid the service of the closed, self-protecting
culture which is manifest in this case.

JOHN TAYLOR: Among the criticisms made by the CMC, a friend of Sergeant Chris Hurley's was involved
in the investigation. Sergeant Hurley picked up investigators from the airport and provided them
dinner at his home.

There was a lack of vigour in questioning a police witness and initial investigators didn't even
ask Sergeant Hurley the obvious question: did he assault Cameron Doomadgee.

JOHN TAYLOR: You've mentioned a police culture of officers standing up for each other, but what
role, if any, did race place in what happened?

MARTIN MOYNIHAN: Well, I think it's remarkable in a sense that when the team went to investigate in
the first place, they took up with their own and didn't take up with the leaders of the local
community. So you can draw your own conclusions.

JOHN TAYLOR: So this would have been handled differently if Cameron Doomadgee was white?

MARTIN MOYNIHAN: I think a lot of people have believed that to be so.

JOHN TAYLOR: The corruption watch dog says the police service should consider disciplinary
proceedings against six officers; an acting Chief Superintendent and an acting Assistant
Commissioner have only escaped being included because they've retired.

But Queensland's Police Commissioner, Bob Atkinson is firmly in the CMC's sights because he
monitored the review team's efforts and supported their findings.

The watch dog says it has no confidence in the review because it was focused on allowing the
officers involved in investigating Cameron Doomidgee's death to give largely unchallenged
explanations for their conduct rather than finding out what actually happened and why.

MARTIN MOYNIHAN: He's got 14 days to report back about the action he intends to take, intends to
take against the officers and if the CMC's not satisfied we'll take the matter to the Queensland
Civil Administration Tribunal.

JOHN TAYLOR: The state's top cop has been given an ultimatum but the Government is shoulder to
shoulder with the Commissioner.

NEIL ROBERTS, QUEENSLAND POLICE MINISTER: I have confidence in the Police Commissioner and in his
ability and determination to ensure that these matters are appropriately dealt with.

JOHN TAYLOR: Commissioner Bob Atkinson accepts only parts of the criticism and he denies that a
culture of police protecting police drove the discredited review he oversaw.

BOB ATKINSON: In my view the two commissioner officers who completed that report did so in good
faith. I do not believe that they knowingly and intentionally in any way attempted to engage in a
cover up at all.

JOHN TAYLOR: Nigel Powell is a former Queensland police officer who helped establish the Fitzgerald
Inquiry two decades ago. He says police culture was a problem then and remains one now.

NIGEL POWELL, FORMER QUEENSLAND POLICE OFFICER: The responsibility for investigating police can no
longer stay with Queensland police. It has to be outside of the police service. They've had 20
years to fix this. This is ridiculous.

JOHN TAYLOR: Over the past six years barrister Andrew Boe has represented the Doomidgee family. He
says Queensland's Police Commissioner is now in the spotlight.

ANDREW BOE: The challenge is there. He's got it in a book telling him exactly what the failings are
and Blind Ferry can tell you that the only options that are really available are to root out these
officers and get them out of the force.

If he's not prepared to do something like that, then his capacity to lead from the front is very,
very flawed. I mean it's questionable.

JOHN TAYLOR: The Crime and Misconduct Commission may have also sparked a political crisis for the
Queensland Government. Last week the Premier, Anna Bligh, said the head of the CMC had approved the
Government offering another three year term to the Police Commissioner at the end of the year.

ANNA BLIGH, QUEENSLAND PREMIER: The Minister for Police sought through a direct conversation with
the chair his views on the proposed appointment, secured his agreement before putting it forward
and making any decision or announcement on it.

JOHN TAYLOR: But when Martin Moynihan was today asked if what the Premier said had happened
actually did, the eyes answered first?

MARTIN MOYNIHAN: No, I was told of the appointment shortly before it was announced and said I had
no comment and I've since pointed to the provisions of the legislation.

JOHN TAYLOR: The Police Minister denies there's any confusion.

NEIL ROBERTS: I asked the CMC chair whether there was any impediment, or words to that effect, in
terms of the Premier making that announcement or that statement and the answer was no.

JOHN TAYLOR: Officers from Queensland's corruption watchdog today took their findings to Palm
Island. It's been 6 years since Cameron Doomadgee died there in police custody. But the death
continues to expose the fault lines of race, police and politics in Queensland.

RAYMOND SIBLEY, PALM ISLAND ABORIGINAL SHIRE COUNCIL: I think this is a start and I hope a new
beginning for the people of Palm that action is going to be taken against the six police officers.

MARTIN MOYNIHAN: We would not be here now if the Queensland Police Service review of the original
investigation had adhered to high ethical standards.

BOB ATKINSON: I'm not saying we're perfect and I'm not saying that there's not a number of areas
where we need to improve. There are and I'm committed to effecting that improvement.

KERRY O'BRIEN: John Taylor reporting from Brisbane.