Defence referred a matter regarding inappropriate use of the Defence information
and communications technology system and the activities of Mr Hastings
Fredrickson, a member of the Army Reserve, to Victoria Police in October 2011. It
was reported that Mr Fredrickson had been a civilian contractor with Thales in
Canberra. He was accused of being part of a group of up to 17 individuals who
allegedly shared and circulated sexually explicit videos and photographs. He was
dismissed for using the contractor's computer system in breach of their
computer usage policy.
Some members of this group to themselves as the Jedi Council. It was
alleged that the material was circulated via the Defence Restricted Network
email system. It is believed that a further 172 soldiers may have received some
of the emails without being active members of the core group.
According to Defence:
This referral followed an Australian Defence Force
Investigative Service [ADFIS] investigation into the matter. Due to civilian
law jurisdictional limits, Victoria Police referred the matter to the
Australian Federal Police which, in 2012, referred the matter to the New South
Wales Police for investigation. New South Wales Police subsequently initiated
Strike Force CIVET.
In the absence of a submission from NSW Police the committee has relied
on the Defence submission for background information and a chronology of
events. In April 2013, the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service
(ADFIS) initiated its own investigation called Operation JARRAH. It had a
broader scope than the Strike Force CIVET inquiry, investigating the group of
17 individuals who identified as the Jedi Council. Operation JARRAH ran
concurrently with Strike Force CIVET.
It is standard practice for NSW Police to prepare a post-operational
assessment report at the conclusion of a major investigation, and this appears
to have been the case at the conclusion of Strike Force CIVET. Apparently,
these reports are provided to the relevant police commander who makes an
assessment as to whether further action is required. According to Defence:
New South Wales Police has neither referred the Strike Force
CIVET post operational assessment to defence nor requested that Defence
investigate or take action with respect to its assertions regarding Australian
Defence Force Investigative Service misconduct.
The Inspector-General Australian Defence Force (IGADF) conducted two
inquiries in 2013 into the management of unacceptable behaviour within the ADF
as they related to the Jedi Council matter. The first inquiry focused on
whether Defence's investigation and management of the incidents of unacceptable
behaviour in the Army was 'timely and appropriate'. The second inquiry was a
comprehensive professional standards review of the original ADFIS
investigation. According to the IGADF submission:
Both the first IGADF inquiry and the second IGADF inquiry are
rigorous and detailed inquiries conducted according to law. They are
evidence-based work, the reports of which speak for themselves. In both
instances their conclusions are logical and supportable. Both inquiries made
findings of shortcomings on the part of ADFIS. The second IGADF inquiry
contains recommendations where appropriate to address identified shortcomings
In June 2013, the then Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Morrison, made
a public statement relating to the conduct of this group. The Defence
submission stated: 'Action taken against the Defence members associated
with...Operation JARRAH investigation was initiated following this statement'.
The then Chief of the Defence Force, General Hurley, made the final
determination in each case where Lieutenant General Morrison had issued a
notice proposing the termination of a member's service. At the conclusion of
...General Hurley decided to terminate the service of nine
members and to retain the service of the other seven. Of the seven members
retained, six were issued with a censure. Lieutenant General Morrison relieved
the remaining individual...of command of his unit.
According to Defence, the situation of the 176 additional Defence
members and employees identified in the second phase of Operation JARRAH was
independently assessed by each person's chain of command. In the majority of
cases action taken against them involved administrative sanction.
The most serious allegations included in the terms of reference are
ADFIS staff and others within Defence deliberately lied, withheld
evidence and fabricated evidence in its dealings with NSW Police; and
Defence leaked the personal information of ADF members to the
media without regard for their physical or mental wellbeing.
The terms of reference also include a number of other allegations
against ADFIS: that its investigation into the Jedi Council did not contact or
interview any members, was limited in scope and reached conclusions that were
inconsistent with the evidence available to it.
The committee received in camera evidence from several of the
individuals who had received notices proposing the termination of their service,
based on the final determinations made by General Hurley. Submitters recounted
their experience in the Jedi Council affair and told the committee they were
wrongly accused of being associated with the Jedi Council, with serious
personal and professional consequences. They commented on each of the
allegations made against ADFIS and were of the view that Defence was
responsible for leaking personal information to the media which publicly identified
one or more them. The submitters overall accepted the allegations referred to in
the CIVET post-operational assessment report.
The IGADF submission questioned the provenance and status of the CIVET
report given that the document in its possession bears each of the following
dates: 24 June 2013, 20 April 2014, 16 April 2015 and 20 April 2015. Furthermore,
the submission noted the 'paucity of evidence within the document to support
its many serious allegations' and highlights its author's 'significant
misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Defence and IGADF processes'.
The submission concluded on an emphatic note:
The IGADF as an independent statutory officer takes very
seriously the execution of his statutory functions at the highest professional
standard. The serious and unfounded allegations contained in the SF CIVET
document threaten the reputation and standing of the Office of the IGADF, and
confidence in the important work undertaken impartially by that office.
The suggestions of impropriety of any sort as made against
the IGADF...in the SF CIVET document are without foundation, are rejected by the
IGADF and ought be rejected by the Senate inquiry.
The Defence submission also raised serious questions about the CIVET
document and the allegations it made. It observed that the basis of the inquiry's
terms of reference appears to be a document more than three years old which makes
unsubstantiated allegations of serious misconduct that have not been tested. At
the time of making the submission to committee's inquiry in January 2017,
Defence neither had in its possession a signed copy of the post-operational
assessment for Strike Force CIVET (apparently signed by the Commander of Kings
Cross Local Area Command on 9 September 2015) nor at any stage had NSW Police discussed
with Defence the 'factual inaccuracies...misunderstandings and misrepresentations
of Defence processes' in the unsigned copy of the CIVET report.
In fact, Defence only became aware of the CIVET report in June 2016 as a third
party to an application for public access to New South Wales Government
Defence stated that it is not aware of any evidence to support the
allegations raised in the terms of reference. The submission noted that NSW
...informed Defence that it considered in 2015, when the Strike
Force CIVET investigation was finalised, that the matters raised in the post
operational assessment 'had already been addressed'.
The submission stated that the administrative actions taken by Defence,
in conjunction with the prosecutions brought by NSW Police, were fair and
considered: '[t]he outcomes reflected the different nature of the evidence
about the behaviour of each individual involved and the various levels of
responsibility each was expected to take for their actions'.
The Defence submission also rejected outright the allegation that
Defence had provided the personal information of ADF members to the media:
Defence at no time in its public announcements regarding the
investigation and resolution of this matter named any individuals involved,
whether as an alleged participant, witness or victim...
Defence's internal inquiries and investigation did not
identify any Defence member or individual who may have disclosed this
information to the media.
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