The timely release of the Independent Police Conduct Authority report into Clint Rickards' complaints about the "shambles" he says was Operation Austin does at least remove the usual objection of justice delayed being justice denied, but while justice may well have been done with this report -- and let's hope it has been -- we have the problem once again that justice hasn't been seen to be done.
The review into Operation Austin was carried out by former commissioner Richard MacDonald and former acting deputy commissioner and acting assistant Commissioner Roger Carson, and was released yesterday by IPCA chairwoman Justice Lowell Goddard. On the conclusion that Operation Austin was "exemplary," we have only have the judgement of Goddard, Carson and MacDonald on which to rely -- we have to take their word rather than have the opportunity to see the evidence of being exemplary for ourselves. Goddard says, for example:
There was "no evidence at all" to support Mr Rickards' statement that Operation Austin had been a shambles.... "In fact, the opposite."
That's good. But since the inquiry was held behind closed doors, we don't know this for ourselves. This is justice neither to the police nor to the original complainants -- nor to Rickards. Justice must be done, and it must be seen to be done.
It's good that the Police Complaints Authority is now independent -- at least nominally -- perhaps the next step should be that it is open, and truly independent. It's what a mature democracy should require, and what confidence in the police demands.