Chief Commissioner admits he avoided question about Bourke St terrorist’s bail on night of attack
The Chief Commissioner has admitted to withholding information about whether the Bourke Street terrorist was on bail, when he was asked on the night of the attack.
At the press conference held at 8.30pm on Friday November 9, Graham Ashton was asked by 3AW police reporter Pat Mitchell if the offender was on bail or parole.
Mr Ashton responded, “There is some minor offending history” but avoided giving any detail about Shire Ali’s bail.
— 3AW Melbourne (@3AW693) November 18, 2018
He denies withholding information for political reasons.
Neil Mitchell asked when Mr Ashton became aware Shire Ali was on bail.
“I was aware on the Friday evening, I was certainly aware there was a possibility he was on bail because I think we had a court date but it was all pretty sketchy information,” Mr Ashton said.
NM: So did you know he was on bail at the time of that press conference?
GA: There was a possibility he was on bail, yes. I was aware there was issues around bail.
NM: The question was, whether he was on bail or parole, wouldn’t it have been reasonable to say, he may have been on bail, we’re checking.
GA: Yeah, it could have been reasonable I suppose. I guess it’s an oversight on my part is I haven’t mentioned there was a possibility he could have been on bail.
NM: It does look politically protective, do you deny that?
GA: I can see how, particularly over the weekend, how it’s a political issue.
Click PLAY below to hear the full interview with the Chief Commissioner
Mr Ashton says the information that Shire Ali was on bail was confirmed to him, “over the weekend” but he could not remember which day.
He was also unsure of when he notified the Premier.
“I’m not sure, it probably would have been on the Saturday I think,” Mr Ashton said.
“Why did we have to wait a week to find out?” Neil said.
“It raises questions of trust.”
Click PLAY below to hear more from Neil
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says he was kept in the dark about Shire Ali’s bail.
Under the caretaker agreement, leading up to the election, either the Chief Commissioner or Premier were supposed to keep the Opposition informed.
Mr Andrews won’t say when he first learned of Shire Ali’s bail but says he did “everything possible” to keep the Opposition informed.