As my friend Victorian MP Bernie Finn wrote this morning:
Loss of confidence in law enforcement is one of the worst maladies ever inflicted on any society. The current scandal unfolding before our eyes will have far reaching consequences for every Victorian. The tragedy is #DumplingDan’s Government is totally incapable of restoring public faith in VicPol Command. Victoria NEEDS a new Government NOW!
That's Exhibit 1,084 - just one of thousands of bar-code managed files in the folders of Victoria Police's Operation Tendement.
Operation Tendement was the largest, most costly and lengthiest police operation never to return a single charge in Australia's history.
If you want to get to the very serious allegations in this post quickly, scan down to August 2016.
That's when Assistant Commissioner for Double Standards Brett Guerin got a bit too excited and started to use the police computer and IP address to post disparaging comments to our website. That's also the exact same time that DET SGT Ross Mitchell told Ralph Blewitt that Force Command (a group that Guerin was part of) had decided to drop the AWU investigation in Victoria, to drop the proposed Victorian charges and to hand over all the Operation Tendement files to WA Police with no recommendations that anyone get charged with anything.
Here's the timeline - see you down the page at August 2016 - and with any luck in a Victorian courtroom after the hangover lifts.
17 October 2012 - My Crime Report re AWU Scandal to Victoria's Chief Commissioner of Police, actioned within hours.
23 November 2012 - Ralph Blewitt attends Victoria Police Fraud Squad - makes 3 statements.
26 November 2012 - Gillard press conference - Blewitt is a pig, imbecile, uses Asian prostitutes, idiot, stooge etc
16 January 2013 - Victoria Police attend Olive Brosnahan, former Slater and Gordon paralegal, take lengthy statement
15 May 2013 - Victoria Police raid Gillard's former office at Slater and Gordon, seize hundreds of documents
19 June 2013 - Ralph Blewitt waives any and all client legal professional privilege over seized documents
July 2013 - Bruce Wilson receives legal funding from Victoria's Public Interest Legal Clearing House, fights police on privilege
25 July 2013 - Mark Dreyfus QC, Gillard's Attorney General, announces $4M extra funding for PILCH
6 August 2013 - Slater and Gordon go to Victoria's Supreme Court to fight police on privilege - police don't contest
28 August 2013 - DETSGT Ross MITCHELL applies to Melbourne Magistrates' Court for remainder of documents
9 December 2013 - Chief Magistrate finds all documents from Slater and Gordon created in furtherance of fraud, police win
19 December 2013 - Bruce Wilson lodges expensive Supreme Court Appeal
13 June 2014 - Appeal heard
8 July 2014 - Wilson's appeal gets up - police application for documents sent back to Chief Magistrate for re-hearing
23 September 2014 - Chief Magistrate holds re-hearing. An election is looming. Police do not contest 72 documents - the rest of the material goes to the Operation Tendement task force.
29 November 2014 - Labor wins election. Daniel Andrews becomes premier of Victoria for the CFMEU.
4 December 2014 - Daniel Andrews Labor Government takes office.
29 December 2014 - Chief Commissioner Ken Lay APM announces resignation, takes effect 31 Jan 2015
10 April 2015 the Victoria Police Association re-affiliated with the Trades Hall Council after breaking ties in June 2012 a few months into Ken Lay's tenure.
22 April 2015 - John Cain Jr announced as OPP Chief responsible for deciding what serious charges go to court and what don't - he's to take up the role in November 2015
27 April 2015 - Ralph Blewitt meets DET SGT Ross Mitchell in Melbourne and Blewitt talks to Hedley Thomas at The Australian.
Blewitt told he will be charged with criminal offences in Victoria
Brief of evidence recommending charges sent to Victoria's Office of Public Prosecutions
Blewitt told Victoria Police were recommending charges against other people
“Victoria Police are now recommending that I be charged over the frauds that were committed in Victoria, and the matter is going to the public prosecutor’s office,’’ Mr Blewitt told The Australian.
“I welcome the charges because I have co-operated with the police for over two years and I want to see others who were involved also made accountable.”
1 November 2015 - John Cain Jr commences as Victoria's Solicitor for Public Prosecutions
From April 2015 to early 2016 many of our readers and I approached Victoria Police, the Office of Public Prosecutions and others trying to get information about Operation Tendement - ie The AWU Scandal.
We were simply told to wait, police don't comment on ongoing investigations etc. No information about the investigation was reported at all.
Ralph Blewitt was in the same position. He'd been told he'd be charged along with others in Victoria. He'd been told - as ha his solicitor - that the prosecution brief had been sent to the OPP for authorisation.
But Blewitt heard nothing.
4 February 2016 The Australian published a story about the political links between Commissioner Ashton's office and the Labor Premier's office, particularly focussing on Ashton's chief of staff. The article highlighted the coalition's dissatisfaction with the politicisation of the police force command.
On 8 February 2016 police minister Wade Noonan announced he was taking 3 months stress leave after 12 months in the job. He did not return to the police ministry.
On 15 February 2016 I wrote to Commissioner Ashton formally seeking an update on Operation Tendement.
I sent chasers to the Commissioners office and to police media.
For one month I received no reply and no acknowledgement of my letter.
On 14 March 2016 I published this story with further unanswered correspondence to the Commissioner's office
16 March 2016 I lodged a formal complaint with Assistant Commissioner Brett Guerin of the Ethical Standards Command about Commissioner Ashton's failure to respond to my correspondence Three hours later I received a letter by email from Ashton's office. The letter advised that if I wanted information about the progress of my 2012 complaint I'd have to lodge an FOI application.
I responded on the same day, 16 March reiterating my status as the complainant and detailing various provisions that obliged police to inform complainants about the progress of their matter.
On 18 March 2016 I published this story regarding John Cain's 1995 role in one of Wilson's crimes - along with Cain's responsibility for deciding who gets prosecuted and who walks in current day Victoria.
From April to July 2016 we continued our requests to Victoria Police, the OPP and others for updates on Operation Tendement - we received nothing.
On 17 August 2016 Bill Thompson (one of our readers) videotaped a conversation with Commissioner Graham Ashton. Bill explained there'd been no update about Operation Tendement for at least one year.
Bill asked, "Is the matter suspended or otherwise.."
Ashton jumped in, "No I don't know the answer to that question...specifically. No. I'm sorry, I don't know."
Bill, "So it's not a matter that you've heard of?"
Ashton, "No, not recently, no."
On 18 August I published this article expressing doubt at Ashton's extraordinary claim that he had no idea about the disposition of the AWU matter.
Around that time Detective Sergeant Ross Mitchell and Ralph Blewitt commenced discussing Ralph's return to Australia for a face to face meeting with Victoria Police. Mitchell wanted the meeting to tell Blewitt about Victoria Police's decision to hand the entire AWU investigation and files to WA and to drop their own enquiries and potential charges in Victoria.
It's unlikely a junior ranking officer would make such a significant and politically sensitive decision alone. Police command (ie Ashton, Guerin and the other Assistant Commissioners) must have either made the decision or at the very least known about it and not vetoed it.
At that same time Guerin/Demerest started posting to our website - ie at the end of August 2016. Guerin showed his colours when he later posted this opinion about the Operation Tendement investigation into Gillard and the AWU Scandal.
Given that this whole thing is a politically-driven stunt, I can see why the police would want to put investigating things like rapes, assaults, robberies and other serious crimes which actually impact on real people on a higher level than crap such as this.
On 5 September Ralph advised his Facebook followers that he was enroute to Australia “to get an update on the AWU fraud case situation with the Victorian DPP”.
On 7 September Ralph met with DET SGT Ross Mitchell in Melbourne. Blewitt's recollection of the meeting is summarised here:
Mitchell advised Blewitt that the charges he'd been waiting for from April 2015 would now not be laid. Ralph was told he was in the clear so far as Victorian authorities were concerned.
Mitchell also told him Victoria Police had ceased their involvement in the AWU investigation.
Mitchell stated that the entire Operation Tendement file was being passed to the WA Police for any further action and for the laying of any potential charges against offenders.
Ralph was advised that the WA DPP would review the files before any further action was taken and that he should wait to hear from the police in WA after the DPP's advice was completed.
On 8 September The Australian newspaper published this story. To Ralph's credit he declined to comment on the discussions he'd had with police.
On 26 September Ralph wrote to Mitchell to follow up on the 7 September meeting - Blewitt had concerns about extradition from his home in Malaysia.
On 29 September The Australia published this story by Pia Akerman.
Akerman's report makes it fairly clear that Victorian authorities (including the OPP and police) made no request for charges to be laid in WA, they simply handed over their files.
DPP mulls over AWU slush fund criminal charges
Evidence from a long-running Victoria Police probe into the Australian Workers Union slush fund affair is in the hands of West Australian prosecutors, who will decide whether it warrants further investigation or criminal charges.
News of the WA Director of Public Prosecution’s role came as Victoria Police assured key suspect Ralph Blewitt there were no plans to extradite him from his Malaysian home to face charges.
A WA Police spokeswoman yesterday said the case was being considered by prosecutors following a referral from Victoria Police. “They (the DPP) are preparing a report which may include this being referred to us for investigation,” she said.
Mr Blewitt has said he was warned during a meeting with Victoria Police this month that he could be extradited when police wanted to charge him, even though he had travelled to Australia several times voluntarily for questioning.
He yesterday received a letter from fraud squad Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Ross Mitchell. “I can confirm that there are no plans to extradite you from Malaysia,” he said in the letter seen by The Australian. “The West Australian authorities will be in contact with you, once they have made a decision.”
Ralph Blewitt is now facing fraud charges in Western Australia - charges which rely in part on evidence handed over by Victoria Police to WA police and DPP.
WA's criminal justice system does not have the lower court committal hearings that take place in Victoria. Because there's no opportunity for a defendant to test the evidence in WA's system before appearing in the higher courts, WA laws require prosecutors to hand over everything they have to the defendant.
That's why Ralph Blewitt has been served with more than 1,500 individual exhibits gathered by Victoria Police's Operation Tendement.
You have seen some Operation Tendement exhibits at the Trade Union Royal Commission website and we've published then and other Tendement material here.
I know of several lawyers who have examined the Victoria Police Operation Tendement evidence served on Blewitt.
That evidence clearly discloses the commission of multiple serious indictable offences in the State of Victoria.
One matter involves a deception on the Commonwealth Bank in which Bruce Wilson and others co-sign a letter written by the now SPP John Cain Jr (in his own handwriting). That letter falsely states to the CBA that the AWU has no interest in the monies Wilson received from Thiess and other companies. As a result of that false statement, the CBA handed $180,000 to Wilson and Bob Smith - who then sent those funds back to the companies which had paid them in.
John Cain Jr's role in that deception is all the more worrying when the hand-written notes of now Federal Court Judge Bernard Murphy are taken into account. The money was returned as part of a plan to conceal Wilson's criminal tracks, in particular to avoid the prospect of prosecutions over secret commission payments. Both Murphy and Cain are recorded as acknowledging that Wilson received secret commission payments - and Murphy records that he was advised the AWU WRA Inc secret commission payments from Thiess "would lead back to Slater and Gordon's role in the incorporation of the entity - and in the use of its funds to purchase a property in Kerr St Fitzroy".
Those criminal offences were committed, continued and completed wholly in Victoria.
The evidence is unequivocal.
But John Cain Jr, Graham Ashton's Victoria Police and Vernon Demerest appear to interpret the evidence very differently. They've decided there were no offences to be pursued in the Garden State.
And they all came to that decision at about the same time! We know that because of Ross Mitchell's advice to Blewitt which was conveyed to Blewitt at the same time as Brett Guerin started airing his opinions on our website via his police computer.
So Ashton's Circus sent the Victoria Police evidentiary files to Western Australia.
Most of the people involved in those decisions are pretty good at keeping their mouths shut.
Most of them.
Except the dumbest copper ever to carry a Freddy for cheap Maccas.
Thanks for the memories Brett. We'll miss your contributions here.