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It's okay for Simon Overland to accept hospitality, but not two detectives

Posted by: Neil Mitchell | 24 October, 2012 - 8:57 AM
Neil Mitchell questions why Simon Overland was rightfully cleared for accepting corporate hospitality, when three homicide detectives have not.

I’ll admit it. I once bought former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon a big plate of fish and chips and a glass of wine.

I fed Simon Overland several times when he was an Assistant Commissioner and Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police.

Take me away and lock up me.

I once took the then Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Ken Lay to a football game between Essendon and Melbourne . We had a nice meal and a glass of wine. Melbourne won, so it was a few years ago.

I will admit all those things and if you read the Ombudsman’s report today, perhaps they shouldn’t have accepted any of it. The Ombudsman has looked at various issues around Simon Overland, and this is easily the most trivial.

There are also allegations that a lot of money was paid to a departing media adviser – money she was not entitled to receive. That seems to have happened around the time Simon Overland banned me, which I know caused some disagreement from his media people. Maybe that was part of it all.

The payment to the adviser is significant because that is money that could have been spent on a Police officer out there doing things, rather than what looks like a golden hand shake.

But this stuff about freebies is nonsense. Simon Overland accepted temporary membership with the Melbourne Cricket Club; he went to the Grand Final lunch, the Boxing Day test and the North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast. I saw him at all of those.

He and Christine Nixon both came to our program Christmas lunch and we met over sandwiches occasionally. I think that is entirely appropriate. I think it is reasonable the Chief Commissioner move in such circles, network and talk to people.

I remember when Ken Lay was my guest at the footy and we were both guests of Jim Stynes. He spent the day talking to TAC people, politicians and business people. I remember I said to him at one stage that he must find it hard to relax at these functions while working the whole time – and he was working.

This is different to Christine Nixon taking a Qantas junket to Los Angeles – that was wrong. This is moving around Victoria and dealing with leading Victorian decision makers.

I reckon if we can trust a Police officer with a gun and the power to lock people up, we have to trust them with this sort of thing.

There should be a register of what they accept to ensure it’s all above board. They should declare it, but they should not stop it.

I know Ken Lay is very careful about this now; He wasn’t at the Grand Final lunch. I did see him at one Twenty20 game. He declined an invitation to our Christmas lunch last year which was a pity. He could have spoken to the Prime Minister, the Premier, various frontbenchers from both sides of parliament, Andrew Demetriou, newspaper editors, TV presenters, and even a war hero. But he didn’t come.

That is exactly the room he should be in, talking to exactly those sort of people on behalf of Victoria Police. I’d certainly trust him to do it. He’s not going to sell his soul for a steak.

But that said, there is an inconsistency here, a few actually. But one annoys me: a few years ago two homicide detectives, I think a sergeant and a senior constable, went to the football in a corporate box owned by The Age newspaper. They told the boss they were going and they did nothing wrong, but they were followed by undercover Police from internal affairs. What an absurd waste of resources.

LISTEN: Former homicide detective 'Chris' speaks about his admonishment with Neil Mitchell

LISTEN: Police Association secretary Greg Davies calls for detectives' admonishment to be expunged

Then they were punished. They received an official admonishment to their record which stays on their record. The Assistant Commissioner for Crime, ultimately in charge of the investigation was Simon Overland.

So it was okay for him to accept the opening night circuit, but not for detectives to go to the football. That is wrong.

Those detectives should have that black mark wiped from their record. If Simon Overland and Christine Nixon did nothing wrong by accepting membership of the Melbourne Cricket Club, certainly three knockabout coppers did nothing wrong about going to a superbox with The Age.

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Ted may only get one term - but he did all Victorians a great service by ridding us of the Nixon/Overland regime.

    Graeme Thursday 25 October, 2012 - 12:21 PM
  • Double standards!

    Recall the furore over Nike giving discounts to Vic Police about 10+years back. Argued as being good to encourage police fitness necessary for the job.

    Recall the discounts and freebies from McDonalds to cops calling in, which McDonalds argued was good for security and public safety. Again, another argument for being on the job.

    Now we have Ken Lay, the top cop accepting favours. Where does it stop?

    And of course Neil, you are guilty for providing inducements to these cops.

    BTW Neil, I assume that in Nixon's case it was at least a VERY big plate of fish and chips and probably more than one glass of red. Nixon who put her eating at a higher priority than Vic public safety especially when bushfires strike.

    Jake Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 4:09 PM
  • I heard on the news last night that Mr Overland has been cleared of any wrong doing by the Government watchdog. End of story. I have not heard on the news that Neil Mitchell has been publically appauded for broadcasting made up stories in conjunction with the Herald Sun & The Age and the storyteller who was employed by Peter Ryan and his Department about Simon Overland. The full story is yet to be told on that yet. The only hope Neil can see of covering himself in glory is by smearing Overland again & again while he hopes and prays the other matter goes away. People do remember when the truth is not told.

    Colin Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 12:41 PM
  • Ya but he eeez Siiimon!

    Lonett Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 11:05 AM
  • Well said, Neil & just plain sensible.

    Trish Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 10:57 AM
  • The perfect example from Overblown:Don't do as I do,do as I say.

    jgl Melb Wednesday 24 October, 2012 - 10:51 AM

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